Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Reflections of Thanksgiving 2009

This past Thanksgiving my highlight was seeing my adult children really enjoy being with each other. As we went around the table my two daughters, 31 and 17 years old, expressed how much they treasure their special relationship. My son-in-law said he has grown to appreciate my oldest son in a new way this year. This was the first Thanksgiving that our youngest son could not be with us but he is on a good journey. The sadness is mixed with joy of knowing he is doing well in Dallas, Texas.

As I reflect on my relationship with my heavenly Father I know that thanksgiving cannot be just a once a year or a periodic expression, but rather needs to be a 365 day a year lifestyle. I am impressed at how Paul emphasizes the giving of thanks as much as he does. It seems that he wants our lives saturated with gratitude no matter what we are going through.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be THANKFUL in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I wonder why the development of the habit of gratitude is so important in my relationship with God. I have a few ideas:

First, it helps me affirm that the Father is at His work always (John 5:17) and makes me aware of His continual presence even when it may be hard to recognize Him other wise. It elevates my concept of God. Thanksgiving takes Him out of whatever box in my mind I contain Him in and it helps me see that His power, wisdom, sovereign grace and mercy permeate my life everywhere.

Second, It draws me close to Him, never taking Him and His kindnesses for granted, protecting me from falling into an attitude of entitlement.

And third, gratitude prevents me from being “problem centered” moving me to becoming more “Person centered,” that person being the triune God. It builds up my confidence of what He will do in the future by remembering what He has done in the past. I learn to thank God for the answers even before I actually get them. I try not to do this with presumption but with a confident trust that God will answer as He best sees fit.

Here I’ve got to get REAL with you my reader. I am not naturally a grateful person. I was born with a kind of melancholy personality that kind of sees the glass have empty. (I lamented to my dad on my 6th birthday because the first five years of my life were gone forever!) I have grown up in an environment of abundance where I can easily feel entitled to have more…always just a little more! I live in an American economy that is actually fueled by perpetuating consumer discontent.

But I can’t afford to use my natural tendencies, family background or the American “Super Size Me” culture as an excuse. I will only pass onto my children and grandchildren what I become in my character. Character is formed by consistent choices. I must choose gratitude not only for my sake---but also for theirs!

Heavenly Father, teach me to make gratitude, thankfulness my lifestyle. Even when I struggle with gratitude for things I don’t understand, I can be thankful daily for Your Son and the cross! “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He also not, along with Him, freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

Forever Grateful For The Cross,


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Anonymous said...

Amen, Jamie! Thanks for your perspectives on why we should make thanksgiving an everyday habit. I learned some wise insights!

Anonymous said...

Well said Jamie....a most timely and priceless reminder! Thanks!!!