Most of this week the daily devotionals I have been reading have had to do with giving thanks. And, of course, this past Thursday here in the U.S. we celebrated our annual holiday set aside for Thanksgiving.
It is interesting to read the history of how Thanksgiving actually started, how it was celebrated and by whom. In 1621 the Plymouth Colonists and Indians had a celebration for their successful Autumn harvest. It is said that the celebration lasted for three days. After that days of thanksgiving were celebrated at various times in the different colonies. In the middle of the Civil War in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed an annual day of Thanksgiving to be held on the last Thursday in November. But, it was not until 1941 that President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill formally setting aside that day for a national time of celebration.
An article I read indicated that the author’s impression is that in many American households the original religious significance of the holiday has been lost. Personally, it seems to me to be a time for families and friends to gather to generally overeat, watch parades, watch football games, etc. with little to no acknowledgement to the thankfulness that should be at the forefront of the celebration.
Do not get me wrong – there is nothing wrong, at all, with gathering for those activities I mentioned. However, we should also recognize how very fortunate we are to live in the United States and for all the good things we have. Yes, we have a lot of issues that we are dealing with that can some days make it tough to be thankful. But the fact remains that this is still, for now, the greatest country in the world – and, most of us have so very much for which to be grateful. It is far too easy to take all our blessings for granted and push them to the background instead of being ever aware.
It is not known for certain who wrote Psalm 136, but it was likely David. It is a song that is full of nothing but praise/thanksgiving. Verse 1 says: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Then the last verse – verse 26 says: “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.” Each of the verses between tells of all they have to be thankful for – their deliverance and arrival into the promised land; and, each verse has the reminder that “His faithful love endures forever.” That statement alone is enough for celebration!
As a Christian, I recognize that I have so much to be grateful for other than just the material possessions I thank Him for daily. More importantly, I have the love of God that has saved me from eternal damnation. I have a heavenly Father that has a place reserved for me in heaven. I have a Saviour that forgives me of my frequent sins and loves me anyway.
It can be so easy when times are more difficult and we are struggling with issues in our lives to forget all the goodness, and gratitude is the last thing on our minds. The author of my devotional book – Chris Tiegreen – said in my devotional a couple of days ago “Gratitude is a matter of perspective…Choose gratitude. Find something to give thanks for, and then say so. Out loud. The more you do, the more your life begins to overflow.”
Colossians 2:7 (GNT) “Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.”
People that do not have faith in something larger than themselves – in a God that is loving, forgiving and powerful – are going to live a roller coaster life dependent on their life circumstances. In my devotional for today Mr. Tiegreen says this: “Most discouragement and doubt come from a false perspective. If you’re a child of God but aren’t hopeful, you’ve listened to a lie somewhere along the way. Thanksgiving has a way of recalibrating your perspective so that you see correctly. Focus on His goodness and see what it does to your heart – and then how your heart affects your outer world.”
These past two years have presented us with an array of different and difficult challenges. It has caused so very many people to fall into despair and depression. What they have done is given in to that “false perspective” – they “listened to a lie” and neglected to keep foremost in their mind all that they have to be grateful for and then to give thanks for it all.
I will not pretend that during these hard times I have never become anxious or upset – even angry – that I never complained, etc. But, I do work really hard to focus on all the good in my life and to thank God for it every single day. That has enabled me to marvel at how blessed I am, strive to never take any of it for granted and to be happier and calmer. I enjoy daily giving thanks. I highly recommend it.
Written by Karran Martin
November 27, 2021
*Here is a link to the article I reviewed about the history of Thanksgiving.