Thanksgiving: it’s about family, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie, hybernation, football, card games, turkey sandwiches, more potatoes, and more pumpkin pie, and for my in-laws, more and more cards. But thanksgiving is supposed to be about much more than playing games with the ones you love while eating six meals in 12 hours…and wearing stretchy pants for the growing gut.
When we hear the word “thanksgiving,” is it supposed to be about the anticipated fourth Thursday of November (for Americans)? Or is it supposed to be about a way of life. (And by “a way of life,” I don’t mean we stuffing ourselves to the brim daily and saying we will make up for it with a new year’s resolution.)
When we hear the word “thanksgiving,” it is about the act of giving thanks. Steve Backlund says, “Two of the most powerful words we can say are ‘thank you!’”
There is something about a thankful heart that really pleases God. One of the greatest promises in the Bible comes with thanksgiving.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
This is a challenge to us that we should still offer thanks to God even in the face of trying circumstances. He always meets our sacrifice of thanksgiving with a generous gift in return.
How we respond to God when bad things happen reveals how thankful we really are.
It’s so easy for us to focus on what we are lacking in, what is going wrong, or what we aren’t pleased with and complain about it. It takes a lot of discipline to shift a pessimistic perspective into a hope-filled, thankful outlook. But it’s a discipline that we who have those tendencies need to make if we desire to enjoy life to the fullest.
The people I’ve seen who are the happiest are those who proactively look for the good in everything.
Have you ever noticed that people often tend to focus so much on what is not happening for them that they miss what God is doing? How often do we forget to give God thanks for things before we get everything we are asking for? Does He deserve glory only with the completed product of desire? Or does He deserve glory for any small or large thing He does for us?
Remember the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19? They came to Jesus asking for mercy. He told them to go present themselves to the religious leaders, and as they went, they were immediately cleansed of leprosy.
One of the men saw the blessing of Jesus and was filled with gratitude. He returned to worship Jesus with thanksgiving. Jesus noticed that none of the other nine had the same response. Moved by this man’s thankfulness, He said, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
In the original Greek, the word for “well” is “sozo,” which means “wholeness on every level, including spirit, soul, and body.”
This former leper was cleansed of his skin disease with the other nine. But in response to his thankful heart, Jesus went beyond His initial act and restored him to wholeness. This means that whatever damage this disease had done to his body (possibly causing him to lose body parts) was restored back to him in full. If he lost an ear, a new ear was created.
Additionally, sozo means he was restored from brokenness in his spirit and soul.
This story shows that Jesus is so happy to heal people and remove all destructive elements from the lives of anyone who asks. But it also shows that our thanksgiving moves His heart to increase what He is doing for us to a greater level.
Joaquin Evans says, “Thanksgiving is the seedbed to increase.”
We need to stop looking at what is lacking and start expressing thanks for what God has already done and is already doing. Our thanksgiving will open the gateways for God to increase the blessings upon our lives.
Come to think of it, this is a good habit to develop towards people too.
Thanksgiving cultivates a positive perspective and, thus, a joy-filled life!
What areas of life might you tend to overlook what God is doing due to focusing on what is lacking? I dare you to take some time to offer thanks to God for anything you can see that is good in and around your circumstance. Watch it clear out space for blessings to begin to increase!