Around the Thanksgiving Table

November 24, 2020

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB
 We have so much to be thankful for that it is incredible! Yep, you read that right.
Even in the midst of COVID-19 and all the crises and death…
Even in the midst of the political chaos and challenges…
Even in the midst of racial conflict and strife…
There is so much for which to be grateful. True gratitude, which is recognizing the good while not ignoring the difficult, painful, and even bad, is so vitally important for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Medical workers and social scientists have documented that in the last 7-8 months, people have struggled in record numbers with mental health: depression,  suicidal thoughts, lack of motivation, anger. In fact, you name the negative emotion, and it has been felt.
But here’s the thing. Gratitude isn’t a feeling. Like most important things in life, it is a mindset. It is a decision, a choice. Gratitude is the world’s healthiest human emotion. It actually increases your immunity to sickness.  But not only are ungrateful people less heathy, they tend to be unhappy people. Nothing ever satisfies them. Their attitude influences everything and everyone around them negatively.
As a matter of fact, ingratitude is a sign that the evil one is influencing and working in our lives. That probably sounds pretty strong and harsh, but it’s true.
Look at what Paul says: “Throughout human history the fingerprints of God were upon them, yet they refused to honor him as God or even be thankful for his kindness. Instead, they entertained corrupt and foolish thoughts about what God was like. This left them with nothing but misguided hearts, steeped in moral darkness.” Romans 1:21
Wow! Misguided hearts, steeped in moral darkness! Those are profound words. They make us think honestly and realistically. Gratitude is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a Christ-follower.  It stands in stark contrast to moral darkness, pride, selfishness, and worry. When we grow our gratitude, our struggles and problems diminish. They begin to lose their power and control over us. We see situations through the eyes of Christ, and He reminds us of the multiplied blessings we have experienced and what there is yet to see.
Most likely, for far too many of us, the tables we have gathered around over the last 8 months have been laden with baskets and platefuls of negativism about what is happening in our world and the people we feel should be making things different. Maybe we have even said things to or about God himself that have dripped with ingratitude. Has it helped us? No. It hasn’t changed the circumstances but has caused despair to deepen in the people we influence.
This Thanksgiving as you sit around the table with whatever loved ones are able to gather, you will probably have a delicious meal with such bounty you will have leftovers for days. What a cause for gratitude! Loved ones and abundance of food. Here’s my prayer for us. “May Thanksgiving be the beginning of a new season for you, your family, for me and my family. May we flip the script. May only words of gratitude and thanks be given. And Lord Jesus, may each of us pray and live in such a way that the new season will start with us. Amen.”