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This Thanksgiving, and This Christmas

November 22, 2021

Have you heard of the song, This Christmas? Well, this year, I've added to the title, as you can see above. To me, these two holidays belong together. Thanksgiving precedes Christmas. First thanks, then giving.

Thanksgiving is a pause of thankfulness that reorients us to the things that matter the most: God, family, friends. It's a time to pause, pray, praise, and celebrate God and others. Think of it. When you drink from the stream, remember the spring. Thanksgiving is much more than a time when one species ceases to gobble, and another begins.    

Consider this quote by Robert Lintner. “Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” Mr. Lintner made a great point here. Be thankful to God and people more than just one day a year. Let me illustrate Thanksgiving with the following story. 

An older man lived alone in Ireland. He needed to spade his potato garden, but it was backbreaking work. Moreover, his only son, who would have helped him dig, was in Long Kesh Prison. So the older man wrote a letter to his son and mentioned his predicament. 

Soon the father received a reply from his son. "For heaven’s sake, Dad, don't dig up that garden. That's where I buried the guns!" At 4 AM the next morning, a dozen British soldiers arrived and dug up the entire garden without finding any guns. Confused, the older man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened and asking him what to do next. 

His son replied, "Now plant your potatoes, Dad; that's the best I could do from here." 

You know what I would do if I were the older man in the story. Thank God and thank my son! 

This Thanksgiving weekend, I have a suggestion for you. Why not give thanks for and to your family, co-workers, friends, spouse, employees, or your employer? John F. Kennedy said that we must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. I agree with that. 

Even the famous sprinter, Usain Bolt, has found a way to thank his doubters. Here is what he wrote: "I'd like to say to all my fans out there, thanks for the support. And to all my doubters, thank you very much because you have pushed me." Not bad! Dub Nance points out something for which we all can be very thankful. "There's one thing for which you can be thankful...only you and God have all the facts about yourself."

Richard Douglas notes the following on the idea of Thanksgiving. "The modern American seldom pauses to give thanks for the simple blessings of life. One reason is that most of us have many good things in life. Another reason is that it hurts our pride to be grateful. We do not want to admit that God is the Provider of all good things. We are stewards, not owners. Being thankful requires humility and faith in God. When we have these things, we can be grateful."

The lack of thankfulness in our lives has devastating consequences. It affects our attitude when we are closed off from gratitude. We end up becoming judgmental. We end up becoming selfish and self-sufficient. We end up underachieving and alone in our unthankful world.” Brene Brown captures Douglas’ concept in this statement. "What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.”

Craig Lounsbrough clarifies Thanksgiving for us even more. “Let's be frank, being thankful doesn't change the reality of what we're facing; it simply emphasizes what we do have rather than what we don't have. It focuses us on the possibilities, not the liabilities. It's not about making anything different. It's about seeing things differently. When we see things differently, we engage those things differently. 

Being thankful is entirely contrary to a sense of entitlement. The two don't do well with one another. In some ways, we've been groomed and grown to believe that life owes us. If I'm entitled, there is no need to be thankful. If I'm owed something, and it's legitimately mine, why should I be grateful for it? And why would the thought of thankfulness even cross my mind if it's mine in the first place?”

Think of it. Attitudes sour in the life that is closed to thankfulness. If someone isn’t thankful for what they have, they aren’t likely to be thankful for what they are going to get. Soon selfish attitudes take over, closing life to better things.

If you are living in a world of thanklessness, pause and change it. Taking the time to thank God and others. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. It's giving thanks, not just taking thanks. Thanking God and others is a way to bless God and others. Thankfulness gives you a different perspective on life, an attitude that builds up, and does not tear down. A happy Thanksgiving is a healthy Thanksgiving, and a healthy Thanksgiving leads to more giving, not getting, for Christmas.

Now, do you see why God says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God…?” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com