Journalists often have stories they are obligated to write. But at Thanksgiving, that is not the case. Reflecting on things I am thankful for is something I look forward to, counting it a privilege to reflect on the Lord’s blessings.
Early in our school years, we are taught about the Pilgrims and that first Thanksgiving. But offering thanks to the Lord goes back much further.
The Bible instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:18). The word “thanks” appears 151 times in scripture, but there are numerous other instances that speak of being grateful. Perhaps a church sign we saw a decade ago sums it up well: “Do The Math: Count Your Blessings.”
Studies reveal that the more Americans have, the less contentment we find. But Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to focus on those blessings from the Lord that cannot be measured in dollars. The Pilgrims faced a hard winter in a strange land, yet they set aside time to give thanks to God for His provision — certainly that is what we should do as we gather around tables of plenty this Thanksgiving.
As believers in the Living God, we know that contentment and security are not found in the material world, but in Jesus Christ. Our celebration of Thanksgiving is meaningless unless our primary focus is on what the Lord has done for us.
One of my favorite songs is “Give Thanks,” and its lyrics sum it up quite well …
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son
And now let the weak say, “I am strong
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us.”
As I count my blessings, they include …
• The truth of Eph. 2:8-9: “For by grace are you saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not of works so that no one can boast” (ESV).
• Those times when every chair is filled in the Sunday school class.
• God’s amazing provision in healing our daughter of Stage IV melanoma 15 years ago.
• My wife — my best friend. She said she would never leave Princeton, where we lived for 43 years, but willingly moved to Louisville when the Lord opened this door of ministry for me.
• The best co-workers at KBC that anyone could ever ask for.
• The family that follows the Lord’s leading in adopting a child.
• The overturning of Roe v. Wade.
• Grandchildren. Words are inadequate to describe the multitude of blessings they provide.
• Making new friends and spending time with old friends.
• The opportunities the Lord gives to bear witness to His saving power.
• Knowing you’ve done the right thing, no matter what others may think.
• Opportunities the Lord has provided for me to be involved as an interim or supply preacher in a number of churches and the wonderful relationships that have been formed.
• The blue lights that appear in my rear view mirror, but are not meant for me.
• Being old enough that my son doesn’t expect me to ride a roller coaster again.
• The faith of this country’s Founding Fathers, whose words of reliance upon God are inspirational.
• The young person who says, “yes, sir,” or “no, sir.”
• The solemnity of a man and woman standing at the altar, saying “I do.”
• The end of the month arriving and there’s still a little money left in the checking account.
• For amazingly good health, including not having COVID.
• My adult children, who have an elevated (yet undeserved) opinion of me.
• The Bible, which is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.
• Parents, now deceased, who taught me the difference between right and wrong.
• Utility bills — that way I know I can stay warm in winter and cool in summer.
• The person who can laugh at himself or herself.
• The person who is quick to welcome any visitor to church.
• The brave men and women who wear the uniform and serve in our Armed Forces.
• That beauty is all around me. After all, there are some whose world is always dark.
• That I can hear music playing, because there are those whose entire life is spent in silence.
• That I can work, because there are others who must depend on others for their most basic needs.
• That I am loved, because there are those for whom no one has ever cared.
• That I can cry, because roses have thorns. Or I can celebrate, because thorns have roses.
• • • • •
It would do us all well to remember the words of 18th century clergyman Matthew Henry. After being robbed, he mentioned four things he was thankful for.
1) He was thankful he had never been robbed before;
2) Though they took his possessions, they did not take his life;
3) Because they took all he had on his possession, it was not much;
4) He was thankful he was robbed instead of being the one who robbed someone else.
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