Am I thankful?
The holidays are upon us and with them come busy weekends and lots of traveling. The colder temperatures are a clear sign that the days of summer have past bye and another winter is right around the corner. While this time of year should be joyous and a time for remembrance, it is often a time of unwanted stress and discomfort. We may attend a family get-together where an argument will break out over the situation of the college football playoffs. There is no place exempt from the envy and jealously that arises from one team’s failure and the other team’s success. While these arguments may be contained to the men, the women are not exempt from their own squabbles. “Who over cooked the turkey, or forgot to bring her portion of dessert?” “Why did she say that and what exactly did she mean?” “What was she thinking wearing that shirt?”
While it is not my hope that any of these disagreements are in your near future, we have all been there and have the scars to prove it. The holidays are presented in movies and on television as a wonderful time of family and friends, but in real life it quite often brings added drama and stress to already tired and busy lives. What can we do to deal with this added stress of travel and family get-togethers? What can we do to ensure that our holidays remain joyous without any hiccups?
The easiest step that we can take to ensure happy holidays is not allowing our extra time away from home to take us away from our relationship with God. While that may have been an easy sentence to type, it will be much harder to apply! During those busy days driving back and forth to the different family gatherings, it is quite easy to forget to pray and be thankful to God for all His blessings. We may celebrate the day of “Thanksgiving”, but is that a term God would use to define our lives? Are we truly exhibiting a heart that is thankful for all the things given to us by Him?
While the beautiful days of sunshine may be harder to find during the winter months, are we thankful for both the sunshine and rain? The Psalmist wrote,
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises to our God on the lyre, Who cover the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens which cry (Psalm 147:7-9).
No matter the weather conditions there is always a reason to give thanks to God. The seasons of the year are a manifestation of His power and control over the physical realm. Therefore, on either a dreary or sunny day, let us “sing to the Lord with thanksgiving.”
Some of my most wonderful memories of the holidays seem to all revolve around food. We all remember the taste of mom’s cornbread stuffing and granddad’s caramel corn. We all remember the smells and sounds of laughter coming from the kitchen and then the wonderful call, “It’s time to eat!” The holidays are without excuse the greatest cause for everyone’s New Year’s resolution to be, “I’ve got to lose weight!” The food that is consumed in the holidays surpasses everything else for an entire year. Am I thankful to God for these provisions? Paul wrote to Timothy, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Timothy 4:4). How are we doing as a family in remembering to give thanks to God for our bountiful food?
Finally, the time that we are able to spend with family and friends over these next few weeks should cause us to think about heaven. We think about heaven, because we long for that great reunion in the skies. In our memories, we think about our loved ones who have past, but have also left a legacy of faithfulness and hope in their service to the Lord. In our own lives, we will draw nearer to God and become the person(s) that He most desires. May we take time over these next few days and weeks to give God our thanks for salvation and His love. While we may be tempted to quibble and argue over senseless things, may we instead take those opportunities to spend time in prayer with God and with our family.
The Christian is commanded throughout the New Testament to be thankful. Paul wrote the Colossians, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17; emphasis mine, bcj). Therefore, may we remember to be thankful to God everyday of our lives and not just on special days set aside by the world. The blessings bestowed upon us by God are innumerable and without match. May we be eternally thankful for His care and concern for such a lowly people!