Living ThanksgivINg

I’ve always found Thanksgiving to be one of the more “amusing” days of the year. 

We get the day off, we immerse ourselves in good food and tradition...not to mention we have a valid excuse to give sweatpants a workout.

But perhaps you're like me and  have wondered why Thanksgiving is so undervalued in spite of all this.

I mean...yeah, Thanksgiving gives camaraderie and healthy dialogue a platform.

But at the same time...it's still a mere shadow of what it used to be (i.e. a partial celebration of individual fulfillment2...with an emphasis more on what we do for one day than who we are...and have the privilege of being... 24/73 ) when we compare to its original intent.

Thus, I'd submit it's fair to re-evalute Thanksgiving and to consider the day as more than an appreciative celebration over what we have. After all, we call the day Thanksgiving (as opposed to ‘Thanksgetting’; cough, Verizon, cough) for a reason.

And hear me...I'm not saying we can't voice gratitude on behalf of those in our midst, the roof over our head, being in good health, etc.

I'm just saying if our gratefulness is solely content on interim pleasures, then it's probably fair to say our thanksgiving is limited at best.

Consider Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves…admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peacef himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, pray for us” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:12-25

Note how Paul sets a foundation as to how we’re to live with one another (i.e. gives a template on what profound/other-centered action looks like), integrates instruction on how we’re to build upon it, and uses thanksgiving as a steel rod to uncover some meaningful application.

For instance…often times, we treat thanksgiving as an emotional response to fortunate happenings...or [what we consider] a positive manifestation of God’s will. 

But this isn’t at all what Paul suggests, as evident in v. 16-18 when he says, “Rejoice always; pray continually, and be thankful in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Now...I don't know about you, but I love how Paul combines clear-cut language with his structuring here...specifically, how he uses thanksgiving as a pivot point for the letter's conclusion...and the glue tying his whole point together.

What is the point, you say?

I’d submit it’s this: to be at peace is to be thankful…and to be thankful is to delight in what God desires.

Pretty cool, eh?

Granted...easier said than done, but still…there’s much comfort to be found here.

For there will be times when life doesn’t make sense, when we won’t have explanations or results to justify where we find ourselves.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t be thankful.

Why? Because thanksgiving isn’t defined by our circumstances…or chained to the things solely seen. Rather, it’s a declarative heart response to what God has done, is doing, and will do for us.

Therefore, when we engage thanksgiving, we’re ultimately positioning ourselves to better see how God sees…all the while renewing our motivation to let people see Jesus in us as well.

My encouragement to you, my friends, is to examine the state (and direction) of your thanksgiving…and seek to make it your thanksliving…with the goodwill you employ a consistent outflow of what you believe (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).

After all, who wouldn’t want some a slice of peace to go with their pumpkin pie?

Just sayin’ ;)

Footnotes

1)         Seriously, am I the only one who wonders why we call it Thanksgiving anymore? It's not like our culture truly values the day. I mean…you'd think we would have started calling it "Black Friday Eve" a long time ago.
2)         As opposed to fullness; HUGE difference between the two (see Ephesians 3:16-19; Colossians 2:1-3)
3)         I mean...you talk about irony intersecting sanctity…and Thanksgiving taking home the [pie]. Man…

Photo creds: thisjoyfuljourney.com, free-wallpaper.us, pinterest.com

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