“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” — Psalm 100:4.
The signs of the Christmas season seem to come earlier every year. While Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, we can very easily forget Thanksgiving if we are not careful. The Bible says that whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God. (Colossians 3:17) We should have an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It is a personal quality that molds and shapes our lives, not just something we do or say. One way to have gratitude is to remember the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanksgiving was originally established as a Christian holiday by President George Washington in 1789. Because Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated consistently, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November 1863 for a day of gratitude. He declared: “We are prone to forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come… . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”
Presidents continued to annually declare a national Thanksgiving Day until 1941 when Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.
But sometimes at this particular time of year, we can forget about how thankful we ought to be. We need to never forget that God has blessed us. After all, God sent His son Jesus to be our Savior! (1 Corinthians 15:57) The Bible urges us to give thanks to the Lord. We are told in Psalm 106:1, “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
Thanksgiving may be tough for you this year. Maybe you didn’t agree with the presidential election or lost investments in our economic troubles. Perhaps you are struggling with fear, rejection, anger, or bitterness? Some may have lost their jobs and even their homes. Maybe you lost a loved one and this is the first Thanksgiving without them. In the midst of trouble there is still room for thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving should be about God, not our circumstances. It’s easy to give thanks in good times, but what about the bad? Instead of giving thanks for our circumstances, maybe we should give thanks to God for being with us in the middle of our circumstances? Sometimes worship and thanksgiving can be a sacrifice because we have to push past our despair and disappointment. Maybe hardship or tragedy has hit your life in some way and giving thanks may seem tough. The Bible doesn’t say, “Give thanks to the Lord, because you feel good.” It says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”
What are you thankful for? Do you have an attitude of gratitude? A better question is to whom are you giving thanks? In the busy-ness of your Thanksgiving holiday, don’t forget the source of your blessings. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
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Stephen Harrison is associate pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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Editor’s note: Pastors or associate pastors interested in writing for this section may submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry.