What The Bible Says About Thanksgiving And Effect Of This Holiday On People's Lives
Thanksgiving is around the corner, and it comes with a lot of excitement, but how can we give thanks in a time like this when our homes and society are plagued with numerous challenges?
How do we find our thanks in the midst of the hurricanes and storms or shootings and terrorist attacks? How can we thank God when we lose our homes due to natural disasters or job due to economic crisis, are diagnosed with a disease, have bad relationships or marriage, or are waist deep in debt with the future looking so bleak?
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These and more questions are the genuine thoughts of many of us as Thanksgiving approaches. And perhaps, the best way to find our thanks is to remember the past and ponder on how good God has been to us as individuals.
Back to history
Can you imagine the challenges the first settlers endured in 1620? They left everyone they knew and everything that was familiar. The Mayflower carried 102 voyages across the Atlantic on a 66-day journey full of sickness and lots of storms.
That winter, nearly half of the voyagers died from disease and lack of shelter. Yet, when the harvest season arrived, they set aside three full days to give thanks.
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In spite of the hardships, there was still much to be grateful for. They were alive. They were welcomed as strangers into a new land. The natives taught them how to grow their own crops. They had food to eat and friends to share it with. They had religious freedom, which is the very reason they came.
They knew to thank God in all circumstances, and that is what Thanksgiving is about, it's about thanking God "in everything," and not thanking God "for everything."
God doesn't expect us to thank him for everything. But if we thank Him, we will always find something to be thankful for.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalms 100:4
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Do we really have a reason to give thanks?
Away from history, this year has been a great one, one filled with ups and downs. And to be honest with ourselves, we all know how hard it can be to give thanks now, especially when we find ourselves overwhelmed with circumstances and relationships. With preoccupied minds and aching hearts, it simply goes against our nature to give thanks anyway. But that’s exactly what the will of God is and what He asks of us.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18
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Finding reasons to be grateful
So, we know that even though we are struggling, our God is still sacred. He is our God on the hill and in the valley. He said he will never leave nor forsake us. He said he will be there when we go through rivers of difficulty or through the fires of oppression (Isaiah 43:2).
So, in each difficult situation, our Creator gives us a glimpse of sacred hope. This sacred hope can be likened to a sunshine after the storm, a silver lining found in a dark cloud. It’s the place where God is working all things together for our good. It’s where the hidden blessings are stored. They aren’t always easy to find, but they are always there.
We need to understand that God created humanity for gratitude. You exist to appreciate God. He created you to honor him by giving him thanks.
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So, since Thanksgiving is an integral part of our purpose, how then do we thank God in all seasons?
Paul puts it even better
On several accounts, in admonishing the people of early church, Paul, the apostle, often made some really salient points about giving thanks. Here are three of them that will inspire you.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
We can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Thanksgiving is not something we do because of anything he has done.
Before we gather around the table this year, gobbling up turkey and a slice of potato or pumpkin pie, let’s be intentional about giving thanks no matter what. We can be personal about it by starting a gratitude journal, or we can share it with others in a prayer before dinner.