What is Thanksgiving to You?
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." Psalm 28:7
Wow, I can't believe how fast we have come to this time of year again. Not even three weeks ago Halloween decorations were coming off the shelves and fall/Christmas themes began replacing them. It feels as though the holiday comes and goes so quickly; we barely get to enjoy it. So many look forward to a day of feasting and family yet forget how special this day is because they are already looking forward to the Christmas season. OK. Hands up. How many have already begun your Christmas decorating or have the tree up?
Let's take a few steps back in time for a few moments. As kids we learned about the first meal shared by the pilgrims and Indians. Plays are put on, kids dress up, and we talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving and give thanks for the “autumn harvest”. As history goes it was in 1789 George Washington introduced Thanksgiving as a national holiday. It was Abraham Lincoln who set the final date as Thursday in 1863. And George H.M. Bush granted the first initial pardon of a Turkey in 1989, and the tradition still carries on each Thanksgiving.
Tradition set aside, what does Thanksgiving mean for many? A lot of people will answer it's a time to be thankful and give thanks. It's a time to be thankful for family and the gifts they infuse in our lives, for their time of love that they've been for us over the years. We can be thankful for those families still with us and for the ones who have passed who we miss dearly. It’s a time to thank God for all He has done for us this past year and for His grace and love daily bestowed upon us.
One of the best things we can be thankful for is time, it's precious, it's a irreplaceable, and it's cherished. Time with loved ones sharing and laughing. With everyone so busy with schedules, their own lives, and work, the time we get to be together as a family can't be replaced. There will be those for who, this will be their first Thanksgiving without a loved one because of death. An empty void will be at their table, but they will still have the memories of the time they had together.
Now for the pardoned turkey. There may be a few turkeys in your life who could use a pardon. In the spirit of Thanksgiving can you find reasons to change your heart and mind to look to others who may have hurt you or made some bad choices that impacted you or your family and find a way to forgive. Maybe look at yourself and see how you could have handled things in a better way. Let's all look to the golden rule found in Matthew 7:12 and do to others as we would want done to us. Let the softness in your hearts open your arms to truly make us all glad to be “home for the holidays”.
Holiday times are also some of the most challenging times for many. There are those grieving the loss of loved ones and are facing this Thanksgiving without them wondering how they will endure. There are those who may be financially struggling wondering how they will feed their family. There are those who are all alone with no one to celebrate with. Thanksgiving is often a make it or break it holiday and many simply trying to just get through it. How are you helping spread cheer to any of these people? Even a simple phone call wishing them a happy Thanksgiving can make a world of difference.
So, as we step into this holiday let's all stop and take a deep breath. Freeze time if only for a few minutes as I ask, “what are you thankful for right now?”
We all say it, but over this next year let's make it happen. Every day not just on Thanksgiving we should be thankful. Each day you wake up and take a breath thank God for something in your life. As I close, I'm going to give you a daily challenge for one week, after that keep it going for yourself and for your family.
Tuesday November 23- who in your life are you thankful for?
Wednesday November 24- what is a memory that brings you joy? Look back and see God's goodness in it all over again.
Thursday November 25- how have you seen God answer your prayers this year? Pause and reflect on one, “yes” you are living now.
Friday November 26- when do you feel joy? Pay attention to one happy little moment in your day.
Saturday November 27- where can you see God's hand in your life? Consider one way He is taking care of you.
Sunday November 28- why did Jesus come for us? Revisit His extraordinary love.
Monday November 29- give thanks for all of the above and enjoy your family and friends.
From my family to yours Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you still take time in your busy week to spend time in the Bible but for this week we will take a few days off from reading through 1 Corinthians so you can enjoy time with your family through the holiday.
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