Thanksgiving - Longer than a Day
Every fourth Thursday in November in the United States is a day set aside as a national holiday to commemorate the first harvest after the people from Europe settled in the new land. The people who came to America were fleeing a country that hindered their expressions of religion. They desired a new way of life so that they could worship God freely. There was a deep sense of gratitude for what God had done to help them grow and sustain crops that would provide for their basic needs.
Now we live in a culture in which every time you turn around, there is someone who says that they are offended by expressions of religious freedom. Where is the attitude of thankfulness?
The Apostle Paul gives us a solution to the many challenges that we face each day and encourages us to be thankful not just one day a year, but to be thankful more than one day each year. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul shares this, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Each one of us could make a list of all the things that have gone wrong in the past year such as abuse, neglect, rejection or loss of some kind. We could probably put next to each circumstance a name where we feel the blame belongs. Paul is not telling us to erase the circumstance and hide it under a rug. He does tell us to be joyful instead of bitter because we know that God is for us and not against us. He encourages us to talk to God about the situation and to have that deeper understanding that it is God’s will that we be thankful.
When we choose to rejoice, choose to pray and choose to be thankful even in the bad times, God works to turn around what the enemy meant for evil into something awesome so that God will receive all the glory.
Choosing joy does not always mean that you are happy. Emotions come and go, but joy is the understanding that God’s got your situation and that He knows what is for your good. Does praying all the time mean that we are always literally on our knees? Of course not. It means that we are talking to God about everyday life events as if he were a friend who we call on the phone or Skype or sit and have coffee with. It is a sense of God’s presence no matter where we are. And lastly, be thankful that God cares and that that storm you are in today will not last forever. Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More, once said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Thankfulness changes our perspective and creates and atmosphere of hopeful expectation.
Read Acts 16:16-40 and see how Paul and Silas dealt with adversity and how their attitudes brought freedom from their bondage. Are you dealing with a life-controlling problem today? Do you have a loved-one or friend that is in bondage to a substance, behavior, attitude or relationship. Then be joyful in prayer and thankful for the freedom that God can bring into your situation.
From all of us at Living Free, we pray that God will give you joy in all things, a continual place of prayer and an attitude of thankfulness for all God has done and will do.