I feel sorry for Thanksgiving. It’s sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, hidden between costumes and candy, and food and festivities. It comes entirely too close to Christmas for people to give it a real chance. Plus, if you consider Black Friday a holiday, Thanksgiving is completely overshadowed by shopping mania.
But I’m a fierce advocate for Thanksgiving. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s all the food and family of Christmas without all the hustle and consumerism (I’m not knocking Christmas…yet, that’s for another post; try not to hate me). I look at it as an excuse to eat good food and cozy in at home (or someone else’s home), without the expectations that Christmas brings. But here’s the main thing; it’s a reminder to be grateful during a season that can so often be about what’s in it for us.
Maybe you don’t feel the same way. Maybe you don’t have close family. Maybe the expectations are just as high for this holiday as any other. Maybe you just don’t feel grateful.
We’re living in a culture of entitlement. I mean, seriously, I lose temporary service on my phone and I’m a basket case (#first world problems). Or when my food is not ready at that exact moment when I want to eat (hangry much?). I expect that my dishwasher will wash the dishes for me, the washing machine will do the same with the clothes, the car will keep running, the electricity and internet will always provide me with entertainment, and my health will always be impeccable.
It’s not until one of those things ceases to perform its proper service that we realize how much we appreciate it in the first place. All these things that have been designed to make our lives better just serve to make us more dependent and ungrateful. And that’s just the physical stuff.
The world tells us that our primary objective is to find personal happiness; in our jobs, our relationships, our hobbies. And it’s hard to argue against such a sentiment. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being happy. Except that you can’t find instructions for the pursuit of it anywhere in the bible. When we set happiness as our main goal, often times it leaves us disappointed and ungrateful. Instead of looking at difficult circumstances as an opportunity to grow and change, we see them as obstacles to our own happiness.
I’m as guilty of this as the next guy. I’m at a place where I really do feel happy a lot of the time. But there are a million little things could make me even happier. There’s always a caveat to my feelings of happiness. Because I live in a fallen world. The problem with happiness is it eludes us. True happiness is fleeting.
So that’s why Thanksgiving is so important. When it’s so easy to look around at what you don’t have and wish for more, Thanksgiving is a time to be content with what you do have. Instead of settling for some temporary form of happiness, choose instead to live with a grateful heart.
Even if things are as bad as you think they can get, be reminded of God’s direction to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess 5:18). Remember that our purpose in this world is so much greater than us and how we feel about our circumstances. We can be grateful that God it working it all for our good and His glory.
More than circumstances and feelings (and election results), choose to practice thankfulness. And not just for the things you have, but for who God is. He says He will never leave us nor forsake us. He promises His grace in spite of our sin. He’s walking with us through the times of trials and the times of happiness.
This Thanksgiving, give yourself permission to release the expectations and rest in what God has done for you.