I've always enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family but many times I become distracted from the intended purpose. Between football, conversations, and pumpkin pie, it's easy to forget how much we have to be thankful for. Sadly, many have forgotten or maybe they have never known the history of human suffering that is associated with the Pilgrims. It's been recorded that the new colony was focused on giving God thanks for His blessings and protection as William Bradford is quoted, "Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe 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, to again 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 praised God and appreciated Him for all they had. Today the meaning of Thanksgiving is often lost under an endless avalanche of media hype, sales advertisements, marketing gimmicks, and aggressive commercialism.
Like all Christians, we give thanks to the Lord for loving us and rescuing us from eternal darkness and death. We could never express to our Heavenly Father enough how grateful we are that He sent Jesus to redeem and forgive us with His blood. I realize there are hard times and many difficult situations, but we are fortunate to not only have His promises of hope and peace here on Earth, but He is also preparing a place for us in Heaven. I published a book a couple of years ago called, "A Lifestyle of Worship" and it's about becoming determined to develop an awareness of God's presence all the time instead of just when we are in church or need a favor. Brother Lawrence, whose seventeenth-century work, "The Practice of the Presence of God," details his discipline to become so sensitive to everything going on around him that he might consider all situations as an opportunity to manifest the attributes of Christ.
I realize that most people keep a busy schedule and do not always wake up in the mornings and thank God for all of their blessings. Why is this? Well, we have a tendency to take important things for granted like our good health or even the air we breathe. We become so occupied with trying to make decisions and leaning on our own understanding that we forget that God is helping us and always has our best interests in mind. It takes serious dedication to continually concentrate on how worthy He is of our gratitude and adoration. "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together" Psalm 34:3.
So, we see that Thanksgiving is about expressing our love to God, and those who desire to know Him personally will discover that our devotion is not based on what He can give us, but just on who He is. Above my fireplace, there's a log engraved with Matthew 22:37-38 and I often ask God to reveal to 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 and every book that has been written can only scratch the surface in describing God's endless generosity and glorious majesty.
This season let us consider our Thanksgiving holiday as more than a day off from work, a traditional celebration, or a Black Friday sale. May it be a state of mind where we can truly worship Him for our daily blessings and our eternal salvation. It's wonderful to have a roof over our heads, good health, and a long list of His benefits, but we are especially grateful for His infinite grace. It's my prayer today, that I will never become spoiled with His blessings, but every moment to be sincerely grateful for the privilege to know Him, and be compelled to demonstrate His love and compassion to others.
Dr. Holland is a Christian author, outreach minister, and community chaplain. To learn more about the Christian life visit billyhollandministries.com