Rethink Thanksgiving – a 30-Day Challenge

by Andy Wood on October 31, 2016

in Esteem, Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Abundance

Peace of mind

This just in… Thanksgiving is staging a comeback.  After several years of retail retreat from Black Friday, creeping into stores opening sometime on Thanksgiving Day, retailers seem to have gotten the message either from employees or the public.  More and more are again choosing to close on Turkey Day.

Oh. I mean Thanksgiving.

But this isn’t about retail habits or family traditions. In fact, it isn’t about holidays – American or otherwise – at all.

It’s about giving thanks.

And to be honest, I’m doing this with a little fear and trembling because you may think I’m taking a swipe at people who are actually thankful.   That’s not my intention.

But let me tell you what’s going to happen starting tomorrow.  Over the course of the next 30 days, people with thankful hearts are going to decide that one day in November is not enough and they will think of one blessing each day they are thankful for.  And it’s a wonderful thing.

Did you see that?  It’s a wonderful thing.

They will be celebrating the many ways their lives are richly blessed.

And it’s a wonderful thing.  (Did I mention that already?)  I’ve done that myself here and in other places.

So let me start by saying that if you are living in a constant state of whining and complaining about your first-world problems or daily frustrations, get your head out of your armpit and wake up to how glorious your life can and should be.

But to those people who intentionally try to live grateful lives, I would like to offer a gentle suggestion:  Maybe it’s time to rethink Thanksgiving.

This is a Much Bigger Deal Than I Thought

I was minding my own business last year, doing a daily study through the book of Colossians in the Bible, when I got interrupted with a pretty powerful smack upside the head. After reading this passage I started to realize that gratitude was more than just important – it is vital to our growth and success as believers.  This is a big deal – part of a “Golden Triangle” of spiritual virtue.  And as I explored that more, I decided to look for every verse or passage in the Bible that had something to do with gratitude or thanksgiving.

There are 151 of them.

I’d say that suggests it’s pretty important, wouldn’t you?

I’ve counted 151 times somebody said “Give thanks” or is recorded to have actually done it. Care to guess how many times out of 151 that someone “counted their blessings” or celebrated what they had?

Maybe once. Psalm 103:2 reminds us to bless the Lord and “forget not all His benefits.” But then it proceeds to describe God’s activity, not man’s. God’s goodness, not the goodness of the blessing.

Other than that, thanksgiving has a complete different focus in scripture than what you typically hear in generic expressions of gratitude…

I am thankful for my blessing because my blessing is so awesome to me and I need to do this to remember how very blessed I am and how wonderful these blessings are. Did I mention they are wonderful?

Let me again hasten to say (can you tell I’m a little nervous about this?) that this is not a bad thing. This level of gratitude is proven to make you healthier, happier, and much more likeable. There just one teensy little problem with it…

It doesn’t need God.

It celebrates the gift(s) and the receiver.  Recognizing the specific Giver-in-Chief is optional.

By the way, do you know what they call it when you recognize or prioritize something ahead of God?

Idolatry.  They call it idolatry. And it was a pretty humbling thing to recognize that for years I had cultivated a form of gratitude that could function with or without my Heavenly Father’s personal involvement.

I Don’t Think He’s Offended

Look. I don’t think God looks at this as an act of rebellion. I honestly think He honors honoring hearts. Think of this as more of a growth or maturity opportunity.

I don’t think He’s offended, but I do think He’s thirsty.  As I have mentioned in other places, human gratitude is the one thing that God desires that He cannot find within His own nature and character. He doesn’t need us for praise or power or life. He’s very self-contained.  But the one thing He requires and longs for that He cannot find in His own being is human gratitude. He yearns for those who, in the midst of their blessings, can spot what He was doing and honor Him and His work.

Okay, so you’re blessed with a great spouse or family.  What was God doing that resulted in you having them?

So you have a great job.  What was God doing that resulted in you having that job?

You’re grateful for your home. Awesome. What was God doing that resulted in you having that home?

Isn’t This Just Semantics?

I am learning that there is a huge difference between saying, “I am thankful for my grandchildren” and saying “Lord thank you for bringing such different people together in marriage. Thank you for giving them spouses that love You and for giving them health and strength to bring eight (soon to be nine) beautiful children into my life and this world.”

Don’t both of those expressions celebrate grandchildren? Yes. But only one celebrates what God was doing in the process.  And that is biblical gratitude.

Here are some examples from the Bible. We give thanks to God because:

  • His name is near (Psalm 75:1)
  • His name is good (Psalm 54:6)
  • He helps us as our strength and shield (Psalm 28:7)
  • He is good, and His covenant love endures forever (Ezra 3:11)
  • He brings joy to our lives by what He is doing to change people’s hearts (1 Thessalonians 3:9).
  • He has qualified us to share in His inheritance (Colossians 1:12).

Okay, Your Turn

That above list is just a sampling. I dare you to look for 30 ways in 30 days of gratitude to focus, not on the results to you (wonderful as that is), but on what the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ was doing in the process.

That takes a little more thought. A little more faith. But it will connect you to the heart of your God quicker than anything I know.

Let’s take thanksgiving to a whole new level.

Let’s make this personal.

Let’s celebrate the Source from whom all blessings flow.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Martha Orlando October 31, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Amen, Andy, I’ll take up the challenge.
Blessings!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..I Lift Up My Eyes

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