The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and I would like to start it by thanking the host for the opportunity to post on his blog and to Duane and Adam and the rest for the crew for making him look so good. Thanks to all those that read these musings. And I must also express gratitude to the Lord for the safe and healthy birth of Owen Reed yesterday – welcome to the world little buddy!
As the Apostle Paul closes his first letter to the church in the Greek city of Thessalonica, he writes a paragraph of phrases, little bits of advice on how to live a good life. Among those snippets is this one:
…in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Three things should be obvious as you read that; 1) thanks is not an attitude or a response, it is an action you choose, 2) choosing to give thanks is what God expects of us, and 3) we are expected to give thanks regardless of circumstance. That is a pretty different picture of what Thanksgiving means than we typically think of. It is more reminiscent of the petulant child, lower lip extended, “thanking” his or her grandparents for the Christmas socks than it is of the rich bounty at a happy table that we all associate with Thanksgiving.
Consider a few practical examples of what that means for the holiday into which we are plunging.
- If you are joined at table by someone whose political views you find abhorrent – give thanks, especially for their presence
- If you find yourself having Spam instead of turkey this year – give thanks that you are eating at all
- If there is someone missing from table that has been there your whole life – give thanks for the life they had.
Do you get the idea? Thanksgiving is not about feeling good about things, Thanksgiving is about being thankful – regardless – and from that effort finding good feelings.
It strikes this observer that too often in our world today we respond rather than choose. That seems such an awful way to go through life. Not just because I hold dear the Christian command just examined, but because it makes us a victim of circumstance. So much of circumstance is beyond our control, but who we are in whatever circumstance is not. Choosing to give thanks starts that process of taking control – it accepts the circumstances as they are. Giving thanks in everything ends our struggle against that which we cannot control and allows us to focus on that we can control.
Some years choosing thanks is like breathing – others it takes effort. Frankly, some years you have to pretend and pray that in the pretension you can find genuine thankfulness. No matter what kind of year it has been, the important thing is to choose regardless whether that choice is easy, takes effort, or begins as mere pretense.
It’s Thanksgiving – choose Thanks.