Post Thanksgiving Day Musings- Being Truly Thankful

Thanksgiving has come and gone. It is a National Day set aside as a day of gratitude. For most people it is a time for food, fellowship, and football. Some may actually take time to express gratitude; others go about the day enjoying what has brought benefit. Others it is a day of respite from ongoing struggles. If you examine Abraham  Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation you will note that the proclamation came following the Civil War. It followed a time of national suffering and sought to bring honor to God for deliverance and blessing. It also advised the care of those who as a result of the events were not doing well. The celebrated first Thanksgiving was after a time of great suffering with loss of life with aide offered that helped all to survive. There was great hardship and the blessing of a fruitful harvest that was then celebrated. It was a celebration of survival and living life before God.

Somehow today, our view of Thanksgiving seems to be more a celebration of what we have, the good things in our life, the success we have made toward our achievements. We celebrate with those we care about, see to it that our hunger gets addressed, and engage in partaking in entertainment. The pattern is to really feel good and happy and thankful over whatever the gain or progress. Then that day is followed by what is now known as “Black Friday” the biggest day for engaging in consuming more, of purchasing for self and others, ever expanding and meeting varied wants and desires. It is essence a celebration of self.

There are for some a different attitude and approach. Some treat Thanksgiving as a time to give glory to God. Rather than celebrating the kingdom of self, it is moving beyond self. It is a recognizing not only of the good, but of the struggle. It is walking in gratitude. It is easy to be grateful for the good. It is even easy to be grateful when great suffering has been endured and triumphed over. It is very difficult to be grateful in the midst of suffering. The most difficult and painful Thanksgiving Holiday was the one in which my maternal Grandmother was in the hospital with death impending. We spent a lot of time at the hospital. The meal was some nearby restaurant. There was no desire to be entertained. It was simply a day to endure. Yet, each of us to the core had faith in God Almighty, not regarding whether she lived or died, but rather that God was in control and everything has time and purpose. At that time, it was a period of deep mourning, for loss was coming that was not of our will. We each were grateful to God, even if it was not evident at the time, even in the course of great pain.

True Thanksgiving comes from living in gratitude in the midst of whatever suffering we encounter. It is rejoicing in Jesus the Messiah through whom we receive eternal life. We rejoice for the sufferings of this world are but temporary. We rejoice because God is good and all good things flow from Him. We rejoice for without Jesus there is no hope and no light for any. Many miss this opportunity, not only on this National holiday, but in the day to day living of life. Walking in true Thanksgiving and gratitude is daily, moment by moment rejoicing in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all that is of self is filth. The concern is not about the blessings or sufferings, but the focus is on God regardless of circumstance for it is in God alone and in right relationship with him that any ability to be truly blessed comes, for it is in God alone that all things are possible.

A Giving Challenge: A Response to Black Friday

Today, the day after the national celebration known as Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday.  It is the day most retailers either make profit or end up losing money for the year. It is a day that has become known for the start of the “Christmas shopping season” where promises of deals and discounts abound. 

In our culture the Christmas Holiday has come to be about giving gifts to one another.  The tradition is supposed to be reflective of the gift of Jesus coming to earth so that we might be able to be reconciled with the creator. It was the ultimate display of love.  In turn, the giving of gifts has become symbolic of love, and how much or how expensive the gift reflective of our love.  Love has become something bought and paid for, rather than acted upon.  

Now I appreciate the custom of giving gifts and enjoy both giving and receiving. The focus is often about understanding those around us and giving them something they want or need.  Good givers know the person they are giving and match well those wants and needs.  Sometimes the gifts given are simply reflections of self.  Yet, the way we give is incomplete. It is done in love and may touch the person you care about. But what is given can readily be forgotten or discarded.  The question for me is how to give that truly reflects God’s love.  The answer as a starting point is to give in a way that not only touches a person but actually builds them up in an area of deep need that may not even be expressed.  It requires identifying and responding in a way that elevates the person wholly.  The giving touches a part of their self: strength, heart, soul, or mind.  It is something that goes beyond what is readily apparent and touches a person at a deep level reflecting God’s love.

So here is a challenge. How about turning the giving to others to be more than supplying a want or need in a persons life this season. With the love that you want to demonstrate truly find a way to build up those you love.  Find a way to touch them and supply something missing that goes beyond shallw desires and perceived needs of self.  Take time to reflect and pray and identify a way to bring a lasting blessing rather than a consumable item readily disposed or set aside. Find something that build up their hurt in the midst of where they are at, that touches the self with love at a deep level.  Also the challenge will be do not just do it for those that you love and care about ,but also find someone in the community that you may or may not know and touch them with a piece of love that reaches a level that builds up what is lacking. Let God lead you to touch either those that you know, those that you are aquainted, or those that you did not know at all.  Above all find a way to give to touch others that reflects God’s love as a genuine reponse to His gift to us that has touched us completely.

Now perhaps this challenge resonates with you but you feel overwhelmed with the prospect and do not know how to start.  Well here are a few steps on engaging in such giving. 

Step 1: Depend on God. Start with prayer. Turn these actions over to God first and for most. In order to be a true reflection of the gift or Jesus, everything starts with God.  Make this act of giving an act of worship and bring God to the center.

Step 2: Identify who to touch with these blessings.  Make a list of people that God puts on your heart and start praying for them. It might be a good idea to identify who in your family God wants you to bless, who in your circle of friends/acquaintances, who in your church, who in your workplace, who in your community, and even who else somewhere else in the world.

Step 3: Explore how.  Start praying and thinking of ways to touch these other people.  What are the areas that need building up? Perhaps you know they struggle with fears, how do you touch them?  Perhaps they faced significant loss?  Ask for wisdom from God in how to meet these needs and listen to His voice.

Step 4: Act on how you are lead.  It is one thing to perhaps think about giving in such a way, it is another to actually follow through. Please do follow through with at least one person.

Now this type of giving may involve money, but the better and more touching way of building up those you know involves no money.  This type of giving can serve to truly function as a reflection of God’s love.

Please feel free to leave comments about your response to this challenge and what God’s does in your life in relation to it.  Feel free to post comments here on the blog or in addition on the forum in this thread:

I can tell you God led me to give in such away about five years ago know. I was lead to write a blessing which resulted in prophetic words to people in my family and members of a small group at my church.  God has stirred up in my heart today to find ways to give in such a manner this year as well as encourage others to do the same.  I look forward to seeing and hearing what God may do and who he touches.  Please pass this article to those you know as well.  If you receive a link to this via email, pass it along. Let’s see genuine response to God’s love giving this year, building up those with gifts of blessing.