As soon as the leaves start changing into their brilliant colors, thoughts of the holidays come to mind. Years ago, the holidays came one by one and you didn’t see Thanksgiving or Christmas (heavens-to- Betsy!) decorations until Halloween was over. Anticipation for each holiday wasn’t foreshadowed by the push to Christmas that we have today. And why? Because the emphasis wasn’t so much about things as it was about the significance of each holiday and the meaning it brought to our lives.
Now that we are approaching Thanksgiving, I would like to consider what we are, or should be, thankful for. For those of us who have relatively ordinary lives, we should be grateful for our families, our jobs, our home and the many blessings God has given us. As we sit around the Thanksgiving table, with the glossy-brown turkey, savory stuffing, and steaming vegetables, we may joyfully be thankful for all we have, at that moment. But after our stomachs are aching full and the football game is over, are we still grateful? What if you are away from family, or maybe friends, are you still grateful? What if you or a loved one is in the hospital or in hospice, are you still grateful? What if you are very ill and are not sure if this is your last Thanksgiving. Are you still grateful? Some of you have lost a loved one. All you can see is the empty chair where they used to sit. Can you be grateful?
Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Notice it says in all circumstances. How is this possible? How can a loving God expect or desire thankfulness to him when things go wrong? We may not be thankful for the hardship, itself. No one enjoys suffering. But we can be thankful for the opportunity to become closer to him because the situation leads us to. We can trust that God is in control of all things and that he has a reason for everything he allows in our lives, even though we may not understand why.
What are your Thanksgiving plans? We are having some of our cowboy friends, at our house, for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I am so happy to have friends to share the holidays with, since we are far away from our family. I am grateful that we have the resources to do this and thankful that our friends want to be here. I am grateful that our families have special plans with their extended families.
However wonderful our Thanksgiving meal is, there is something that will satisfy me long after the turkey is gone, my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. There are times when I feel depressed and sad. Even though I have some wonderful events planned for the holidays, I can still feel empty. That is until I sit down with my Bible and spend time with Jesus. He never fails to comfort, strengthen and give me hope. He also shows me, through his Word, any unconfessed sin I may have or what I need to work on, in his strength. But it is this time with the Lord that fills me in a way food, money, or other pleasures can’t. Psalm 107:31 says Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
If you feel you need something else to fill a void in your life, know that Jesus is just a prayer away. He loves you and desires to make you his child. If you want, you can say this prayer: Jesus, I have tried things my own way and failed. I believe you are the Son of God, who died on the cross for me to save my sins. Please forgive me, help me turn away from my sins, and be my personal Savior. I desire to follow you all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
I sincerely wish for all of you to have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family or friends. But more than this, I pray that you will know the love of God and how he can fill you with the most satisfying food, his Word.