I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving but many times I become distracted from the intended purpose. I confess that between football, conversations, and the delicious meals I often forget how much I have to be grateful for. Let us once again be reminded of the history of human suffering that is associated with the Pilgrims. It’s been recorded that the new colony gave thanks to God for His blessings and protection as William Bradford is quoted as saying, “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safely to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. Thus, out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of God have all the praise.” Clearly, the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony worshiped God and honored Him for all they had, but today the meaning of Thanksgiving is nearly lost under an endless avalanche of media hype, sales advertisements, marketing gimmicks, and aggressive commercialism.
Like the Pilgrims, this week we give thanks to the Lord for His blessings. I know in my own life, I am thankful for the opportunities to learn and grow in my relationship with the Lord and to help others. I realize there are hard times and difficult situations, but all in all we are fortunate to receive God’s love and to know He longs to surround us in His peace. I published a book a couple of years ago called, “A Lifestyle of Worship” and it’s about developing an awareness of God’s presence so that we can have a better understanding of who He is. Thanksgiving is more than a day off from work, a celebration ritual, or a black Friday sale, it’s a state of mind where we can take a moment to appreciate the Creator for intervening every moment. It’s wonderful to have a roof over our heads, good health, and a long list of divine benefits but I’m especially grateful for His infinite love and mercy. We can train our minds to wake up every morning and meditate about His grace as we ask Him to help us in our daily walk. It will take perseverance and serious determination to continually concentrate on how worthy He is of our gratitude and praise. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” Psalm 34:3.
So, we understand the real reason for the holiday is to express our love to God not just for what He can do but just for who He is. Above my fireplace at home, there’s a log engraved with Matthew 22:37-38 and I ask the Lord regularly to please show me the depths of this spiritual truth. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Every word that has ever been spoken can only scratch the surface in describing God’s endless generosity and glorious Majesty. Brother Lawrence, whose seventeenth-century work, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” details his discipline and determination to become so focused on everything around him that he might consider every situation as an opportunity to serve Christ and be thankful for His goodness. It’s my prayer today, that I may never take God’s grace for granted or allow myself to become spoiled or selfish with His blessings, but to demonstrate His endless love, generosity, and compassion to others.
When obedience and appreciation become a way of life, we will abandon our will and be more focused on His. “Heavenly Father, we thank you for this harvest season, a time set aside to remember your goodness toward us. We thank you for security, protection, our health, and our daily provisions. We appreciate the relationship we have with you and the love we share with our family and friends. Thank you for healing us through our trials and difficulties this past year, we love you, amen.”
Dr. Holland is a Christian author, outreach minister, and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com