Thanksgiving Serves an Important Purpose in Today's World
A few years ago, a Christian friend asked me: “Do you think we should have a Thanksgiving Day in Canada? After all, I always thought that Christians were supposed to be thankful 365 days a year.” My friend’s point is well taken. As Christians, we are supposed to be thankful every day of the year and not just once a year. Still, I for one am glad we have a Thanksgiving Day and not just because my wife makes the best Thanksgiving feast this side of the Rocky Mountains. No, I look forward to Thanksgiving because it is an important reminder of how much, in my own life, I have to be thankful for. I need that reminder. I find that it is so easy to forget how much God blesses me each and every day. It seems far easier to focus on what’s not right about my life than it is the blessings I enjoy. It is easier for me to focus on the discouragements and disappointments in my life than the showers of blessing that God rains down on me.
For me, it’s a constant temptation to take my eyes off the Source of all life—Jesus Christ—and that’s what always gets me into trouble. Incidentally, that’s also what got Peter into trouble. Do you remember the story in Matthew 14 of Peter walking on the water towards Jesus? Peter and the other disciples were in a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. A storm swept over the water, threatening to drown the disciples. In the midst of the storm, the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. At first, they thought Jesus was a ghost. When Jesus reassured them that He was, indeed, flesh and blood, Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus beckoned for Peter to come and, at first, everything went great. Peter kept his eyes glued on Jesus and actually began walking on the water. But then Peter began to have doubts: “Wait a minute! What am I doing?” he asked himself. “I can’t walk on water.” And he took his eyes off Jesus and looked around at the wind and the waves. That’s when he began to sink. You see, Peter did fine while he kept his eyes on Jesus but as soon as he took his eyes off Him he began to sink.
I’m a lot like Peter. I find that I do well in life when I keep my eyes focused on Jesus. But as soon as I take my eyes off Him, I, too, begin to sink—I sink into worry, discouragement, and disappointment. You see, keeping our eyes on Jesus is the same as trusting Him and trusting Jesus leads to thanksgiving and thanksgiving is a good antidote to discouragement and disillusionment. It’s all interconnected. When we trust Jesus we’re thankful and when we’re thankful we don’t tend to focus so much on the difficulties of life we all face.
“Yes,” I answered my friend, “Christians are supposed to be thankful 365 days a year. I’m glad, though, that, at least once a year, I get a reminder of how blessed I am. It helps me keep the difficulties in my life in perspective.”
This Thanksgiving, let me encourage you to meditate on Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Take some time to reflect on Paul’s message in these verses. Then, spend a few moments in prayer, thanking God for your many blessings and allowing the peace of God to flow over you, through you, and around you. Happy Thanksgiving!