It is good to set a day aside every year to be thankful to God and living life in daily gratitude makes all burdens easier to bear. Those of us who belong to, Jesus are blessed beyond what we deserve and gratitude ought to be a defining mark of a believer’s character.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Originally, it was a day when early European settlers came together with Native Americans, to enjoy a feast celebrating the bounty of harvest and give thanks to God. Two very diverse groups of people were united in gratitude and the Puritans recognized God’s provision through the natives that helped them become established in the New World. It is good to take a break from working hard to appreciate those who give us support in life and recognize that God blesses the work of our hands and provides for all of our needs. Life today is easier than the lives lived by those early settlers and Native Americans. If they found blessings, in the midst of their toil and suffering, to be thankful for, modern-day Americans should find gratitude to God easy, if it were true that material wealth brings happiness. However, it seems that a life of ease actually causes people to be less grateful and happiness gained through materialism is fleeting and illusive. Gratitude is a by-product of spiritual wealth that comes directly from faith in, Jesus. Thankfulness toward God comes naturally from hearts filled by the Holy Spirit and isn’t dependent upon any circumstance.
An attitude of thankfulness to God, every day, is the key to happiness. Before I believed in Jesus, I only had myself or others to thank for anything good I’d gained during the previous year. Thanksgiving was only, Turkey Day. I was self-centered and a self-centered life is an unhappy life; and life lived in a world without God is a hard life, without a defined purpose. It is difficult to live one’s life in gratitude when life seems to make no real sense and everything begins and ends with self. My life before Jesus was painful and filled with burdens too big for me to carry, alone. I faltered often and when it seemed that the weight of my problems would crush me, God intervened. When I received the free gift of faith, I found the strength I needed to straighten out my life and I no longer carried my burdens, alone. I found that, Jesus walked with me, every step of the way.
Of all that I have to be thankful for, I am most thankful for, Jesus. I know that if He hadn’t come into my life, I wouldn’t even be alive today. Jesus is my joy in the midst of sorrow and knowing Him has changed my life. I’m thankful to Him for dying for my sins and enabling me to have a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. Because of Jesus, I know God as my daddy and I have conversations with Him, every day and all day long. In Jesus, I find the guidance I need to face and overcome my problems. He is my best friend and He never lets me down. He stuck with me as I changed my way of life and He freed me of my bad habits. He was with me all of those years when I was sick and He showed me that even if I went down to the grave, He would be there with me. He is my constant companion who also promises me eternal life and I believe Him because He has proven Himself to me over and over in the experiences of my life. In Jesus, I have no reason to fear death and freedom from the fear of death is freedom, indeed. I am very grateful that Jesus lives in me and I live in Jesus as Jesus lives in God. This is true security. My faith is the gift that truly, keeps on giving and the longer I walk with Jesus, the more thankful I become. I can no longer imagine my life without Him and I can’t imagine how others live in spiritual disconnect from God.
Thanksgiving is a day for believers that brings what believers in Christ experience every day in center focus. Gratitude causes hardship to dim in comparison to what God is doing in the lives of believers. However, there is a shadow over my joy on Thanksgiving and it is those whom I love that refuse, Jesus. They count their blessings to themselves and often are bitter about the hard work it takes to gain material wealth and sadly, it is the only reward they receive for their work. Spiritually dead to God as their Father, they live alone with death waiting to consume all they’ve worked hard to gain and eventually, even themselves. Thanksgiving Day for unbelievers is “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. They don’t have the Living God to guide them or enlighten them. I see them struggle with life, as I once struggled without the unique companionship that is only found in Christ. Some have lost those who are dear to them and in their faces, I see pain and confusion. I remember when my life had no ultimate purpose and death was my way of life, as well as that which kept me in constant fear. I wish everyone could know, Jesus and have the joy and strength that He gives me. I also know that God is a gentleman and He forces Himself on no one and I certainly, shouldn’t try to force my faith in God on any other; and in fact, faith can’t be forced upon another. One might force religion on another but religion doesn’t offer what faith in, Jesus provides. I pray and my thoughts are always on my loved ones who have yet, to believe. I love them and put their need in God’s hands. I’m thankful to God that He desires to save them as His desire is than none should perish without Christ. I place my loved ones in God’s love, hoping for fulfillment of God’s desire in them. I am thankful that Jesus died for them just as He died for me and that He didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it. I know God loves my cherished ones even more than I do and He has the power to direct their lives in such a way as to bring them to faith.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and as I thank God for all He has blessed me with, my thoughts will be with those to whom it is only, Turkey Day. I’m thankful to Jesus for saving me and changing my life for the better and trust Him to bring those who have yet to believe to, Himself. I hope that next Thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks for new members in the Kingdom of God. May God give believers such an attitude of thankfulness and love that others will be drawn to Jesus, believe in Him, and receive eternal life. Someday, I know I’ll live in a new world and everyone will know, Jesus. Indeed, that is something to be thankful for, when every knee bends before Jesus as Lord. No more pain, no sorrow, no death, and no war. Every day will be spent in gratitude as even the memory of those things fade away and are remembered no more. Every day will be as Thanksgiving Day, a day for believers with all that divides men and women from God, wiped away.