“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1, New Living Translation)
As I write this article, we are preparing for our November 22nd Annual Charge Conference and just beginning to plan for The Hanging of the Greens on November 28th. Of course, this also means that Thanksgiving is coming – Thursday, November 25th. We’ve got our Church Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday, November 21st and the Ministerial Alliance Community Worship Service that same evening. Whew! What a whirlwind this time of year seems to be. I hope you’ll check the calendar in this newsletter carefully and keep up with all the various activities coming up this month. We don’t want you to miss anything in the life of our church.
What is most important this time of year is that we all remember to give thanks to God “…in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) It is Thanksgiving time…Even though we should be thankful at all times…This is the time of year when we are most reminded to be thankful. The only challenge is that some of us may not feel very thankful right now. You may know someone who is out of work; you may be someone who is facing a major crisis; your family may be in turmoil; you may be grieving a terrible loss; or you simply may be looking at our culture and wondering how things could possibly get any worse. With all this pessimism, how can we begin to think about being thankful?
Gratitude is due our God regardless of our particular circumstances at this moment in time. We give thanks simply because God is good and faithful and his love for us is a warm embrace that continues even when we are depressed, or worried, or sad, or in pain. God’s loving embrace surrounds us precisely because we face the difficulties of our life; that’s really what the psalmist is talking about – God’s love is faithful and forever. God knows that we will always face adversity in this life and God promises to be here with us to help us through whatever the world throws at us. When we face problems at work, God is there to keep us calm and focused. If you’re looking for a job, God is leading you to the people and places you need to help you find the right opportunity. When we grieve the loss of a loved one, God is there to comfort us and help us to understand how life will be different, but not horrible after the loss. When we see all the bad things at work in the world, God shows us opportunities to serve as faithful witnesses and help to make this world a better place. Only God can do all these things in the midst of the huge obstacles we encounter every day. This is why giving thanks to the Lord is so important…God deserves our gratitude.
I recently read an article about gratitude and I was reminded that when we feel appreciated we tend to give more to the people appreciating us. If we learn to appreciate more of what we already have, we will find that we have more to appreciate. The things that we allow our minds to focus on tend to become the things that dominate our lives. If we focus on gratitude, our lives will become worth appreciating. If we focus on our problems, they will only multiply and grow. It is really basic investment strategy: If you invest your time and energy into something good, it will appreciate in value and you will find yourself surrounded by the dividends of this investment. Gratitude breeds gratitude; love breeds love; and smiles breed smiles.
We are so busy living our everyday lives that I think we forget about being alive. In our rush to pursue our goals, to get the kids to practices and games, to get the shopping done, to get ready for the holidays, and so on and on and on…We spend so much time rushing around that we forget to notice what we have in our lives for which we should be truly thankful. We have our very life, our families, our homes, and God’s good Creation – That’s a lot to say “thanks!” for right there. I’ll bet if you took a minute or two you could think of a whole list of things that bless your life that deserve your gratitude. I also believe that, no matter how bad your day gets, you can always think of someone who has it worse than you. For these we pray as we thank God for what we have.
Don’t let Thanksgiving Day be a once-a-year thing; make every day thanksgiving day and give thanks to God at all times and in all circumstances. That is God’s will for your life and we believe that God’s mercy and love endures forever.