I have a confession to make: growing up, I had a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving. You see, I was born the day after Thanksgiving, and every few years Thanksgiving eclipses my birthday. As a kid, I came near resenting the fact that we ate a special meal, watched parades and football, and decorated for Christmas, and my birthday was almost an afterthought.
For all those years, I don’t think I let on to anybody how much I disliked taking a back seat to a holiday. I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t know, and if they did, they never let it show.
Looking back, it’s easy to admit what a terrible attitude I had. It was certainly not from a lack of gratefulness as much as it was from an abundance of selfishness, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve made my peace with Thanksgiving.
It has taken not just age by spiritual maturity to get where I am today. My relationship with Jesus has been the catalyst for all kinds of growth, especially when it comes to giving thanks. The Bible reminds us all over the place of the essential nature of thanksgiving.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. –Psalm 9:1 (ESV)
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. –Psalm 95:2-3 (ESV)
And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel." –Isaiah 12:4-6 (ESV)
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. –Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
And I’m keenly aware of the incredible blessings in my life: a loving, close family and wonderful friends, salvation and God’s grace and mercy, health, the privilege of being part of a church family (and staff) who loves the Lord and reaches into the community – and the list goes on and on.
In my adult life, I choose to be grateful not just one day a year, but every day. And I choose to give thanks as often as I can. On Sunday , my pastor made the distinction between being grateful – a state of being – and giving thanks – an action. And I want to be active in my thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving from one who used to celebrate grudgingly. Embrace a lifestyle of giving thanks this week and every day of your life.