Some say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but for many of us, we’re certain Thanksgiving takes the top spot. I mean, what’s not to love? Right here in our glorious city, there is a plethora of activity to make even the most ungrateful of people crack a semi-smile. From the YMCA Turkey Trot to watching a live game of Dallas Cowboys football, to gorging our guts (because calories don’t count on Thanksgiving — wink wink!), to being with loved ones on a vibrant, crisp fall day — there is an abundance of reasons to be grateful!
At our every turn, the all-American holiday beckons us to find an attitude of gratitude; giving a nod to the spirit of thankfulness our forefathers permeated settling this great nation.
Although vastly different than our brothers and sisters of long ago, we declare our gratitude by proudly displaying pumpkin centerpieces on the dinner table beckoning us to “Give Thanks,” or serving the legendary turkey dinner on paper plates stamped “Be Grateful.” These outward expressions of gratitude can be apropos for the occasion, but our founders seemed to have captured Thanksgiving differently: as an expression of thankfulness to all God had guided, directed and abundantly provided.
In light of this perspective, Thanksgiving is a representation of the heart. In the heart of the believer, Thanksgiving shouldn’t be something we carve out solely for one day. For the Christian faith, a thankful spirit is to be lived out 365 days a year as an outward expression of an inner spiritual transformation.
If we go to the scriptures, we see God’s bountiful supply in His Word, illustrating the importance and value of thankfulness. Psalm 86:12 says, “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever” (ESV).
Christ-followers are to acknowledge our Creator by giving thanks to who He is. He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Maker of the heavens and earth. He is a holy, sovereign, grace-filled, merciful, loving, all-knowing and all-present God who is worthy of the highest praise. We are grateful to His character, the unchanging attributes He possesses and the power He has above all. For this reason alone, we are called daily to say thank you with honest adoration. With our Heavenly Father being the centrality of our Thanksgiving, it shifts the focus off exalting ourselves as gods and rightfully places it upon Him.
Possessing a spirit of gratitude points us to knowing God’s will for our lives. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 paints a clear picture, conveying we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s simple enough to be thankful when life’s a breeze or there’s abundance aplenty, but how natural is it to give thanks when life throws a curveball? Or when a life challenge turns into a week, month or even a year of opposition or trials? Are we honestly supposed to “Give thanks in all circumstances”?
Yes, even then. Gratitude is not contained to the larger-than-life blessings or opportunities; it’s for everyday simplicities often overlooked. Thanksgiving can be as simple as taking a hot shower on a cold day, having coffee with a friend, sitting down at a family meal for dinner or the freedom to worship Jesus at church on Sunday. Modest effort to seek out what we’re thankful for keeps our mindset on things above, even when the waves of life come tumbling forth.
The world tells us the glass is either half empty or half full, but the scriptures tell us, “my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5). Thankfulness is evidence of a maturing believer’s walk with the Lord. Spiritual growth encourages gratitude to bud forth and blossom, making it a way of life and mirroring a heart for Christ.
Gratitude wraps us in a warm blanket of praise, placing it as a high priority and empowering us to change our attitude and perspective day by day. Our forefathers embraced everything they had in life as a privilege, a blessing and an abundance of God’s goodness. We, too, can let the legacy live on in our hearts this Thanksgiving, allowing the spirit of gratitude to take hold: on that particular day, and every other day thereafter.
Father God, I pray my heart would be overflowing with praise, thanksgiving and gratitude each day you bless me with life. Thank you for being my Savior and the Lord of all creation. As I celebrate Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all the beauty, blessing and goodness you bestow upon me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Miranda Jo Davis