“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As we wrap up another Halloween and begin preparing for the onslaught of the Christmas Season, I can’t help but think, ‘what happened to Thanksgiving’? It’s like a bump on the consumer road to the temple of our true joy…more stuff.
In fact, Christmas has become such a boom for retailers, that the season keeps creeping earlier and earlier into the year. It’s November 1st, but did you know that Christmas trees have been up for weeks in stores?
Of course you did. You’ve seen them too.

There are reasons that fewer people get excited about Thanksgiving.
Some point to the inequity of the first Thanksgiving that was celebrated in this new land and the injustice perpetuated to the original inhabitants. Other’s find fewer reasons to celebrate as relationships thin and family time is less of a draw.
While others see Thanksgiving as the doorway to the BIG DEALS and a way to quickly (and more inexpensively) cover their Christmas shopping lists.

But it seems there is even more to the disappearance of Thanksgiving.
We are also seeing the disappearance of thankfulness.

Our airwaves are filled with anger and divisiveness, blame and innuendo, hurt and demands.
And with all of this focus on stuff and the apparent injustices of this world, we find fewer and fewer reasons to be thankful.

You see, thankfulness is not just a warm fuzzy moment to be enjoyed over a cup of hot chocolate by a warm fire.
Thankfulness is the complete antithesis of a lot of the things ruining our lives.

It removes the fear of loss, replaces anxiety with joy, brings a calm over us when things seem to be falling apart, and counteract the burning desire for the NEXT BIG THING.

Thankfulness causes us to focus on what is going right, instead of what is going wrong.
Thankfulness reminds us of our blessings instead of forcing us to live in our cursing.
Thankfulness makes our hearts full even if our bank accounts are not.
It changes our focus from what isn’t to what is.
Thankfulness magnifies our joys and fills us with contentment.
Thankfulness soothes broken relationships and restores families.
Thankfulness blinds us to the need for more because we already have so much.
It motivates us to give rather than to receive.
Thankfulness fuels our hopes because our needs are taken care of.
Thankfulness pushes us towards the greatest giver and recognizes his love for us.
Thankfulness gives the difficulties in our lives perspective, so we can enjoy life even when something goes wrong.
It makes us rich even when we may look poor.

Maybe this is why we aren’t just encouraged to be thankful in scripture, but are actually instructed to BE thankful.

34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34 (ESV)

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (ESV)

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)

And if you struggle with being thankful, here is your opportunity to begin growing in thankfulness!

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (ESV)

Thankfulness isn’t just for a season that lasts for 12 hours before Black Friday. It is one of the key ways to live a full life every day of the year.

Choose to be thankful today and everyday.
Intentionally think of your blessings as you face your struggles.
Look to the one who has given us all good things, even when you are hurting.
Find joy through thankfulness, today.

Mark Love
Lead Pastor

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