Thursday, we celebrate Thanksgiving!
So how do you feel about it? Warm and toasty with thoughts of pumpkin pie and the aroma of a roasting turkey? Or do you feel pressure to clean the house, prepare food, or maybe you dread inviting family or frenemies (that person who gets under your skin) over for dinner?
We all want to enjoy this holiday and not be a grump, but how do we accomplish that?
Perhaps revisiting the first Thanksgiving can give us the proper perspective.
I have a keen interest in this holiday. Many years ago, my sister Alison researched our genealogy. She found an unexpected goldmine. Hit pay dirt. Found the motherlode.
Drum roll please.
Our family is related to William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony and writer of the Pilgrim’s history, Of Plymouth Plantation.
We feel honored to be his descendants. Studying about this part of our family history became essential; we were excited to discover our roots. I enjoy revisiting the Pilgrim journey every year.
The Pilgrims survived a brutal winter that claimed the lives of half the people who sailed from England on the Mayflower. The very next year, they celebrated Thanksgiving on December 13. As you read the following words by William Bradford, notice the lack of despair over the devastating consequences of their trip. Marvel at how he extols the goodness of God.
“May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: “Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness, but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity…”
Let them, therefore, praise the Lord, because He is good, and His mercies endure forever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, show how He hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor. When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way and found no city to dwell in, both hungry, and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before the Lord His loving-kindness, and His wonderful works before the sons of men.”
On Thursday we join William Bradford as we thank God for all He has given us.
The last few years have been difficult and traumatic for our nation, but let’s remember that our blessings outweigh our challenges.
Furthermore, gratitude has many benefits.
The website COUNTRYLIVING.COM posted a blog in 2020 called 20 Bible Verses about Gratitude to Turn That Frown Upside-down.
This article explained that practicing gratitude increases dopamine in your brain. Dopamine makes you feel good and encourages your brain to seek more of the same. Scientifically, the more you are grateful, the more you will find things to be grateful for.
They also said, “Through life’s trials and blessings, displaying a sense of gratitude distinguishes the Christian and makes you lovely to be around!”
Which brings me to my next point: Gratitude brings God’s kingdom to the earth.
Maybe you haven’t served on the mission field, or introduced someone to Jesus today, but I’ll bet you thanked someone who needed to hear it.
In a world where complaints about provision or politics prevail, the grateful person stands out.
Jesus said we are to be like shining lights atop a hill. A grateful heart is like a 100-watt bulb shedding joy on those whose light has dimmed.
When we practice gratitude as individuals, our brain reaps the benefit, but we also help each other in the process.
Gratitude helps society. It’s important to recognize we can’t accomplish anything by ourselves and being thankful for one another is part of the glue of community.
The apostle Paul thanked God for his fellow workers and for his disciples many times. His calling to minister delegated him to the forefront, but he didn’t do it alone. Many people helped him behind the scenes. He also experienced great joy as his disciples grew in their relationship with Jesus.
Here are two of his many exclamations about gratitude and community:
Philippians 1:3-4 TPT My prayers for you are full of praise as I give him thanks for you with great joy! I am so grateful for our union and our enduring partnership that began the first time I presented to you the gospel.
Romans 12:5 TPT And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others.
Join me this holiday season in giving thanks for our families, our friendships, our churches, and all God has provided. When we get our focus off our problems and onto the goodness of God, our gratitude will shine!