We are reminded in 1 Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that people of all faiths, or no faith at all, find reason to celebrate. For many it means holiday sales, big meals and social gatherings. But I truly believe that a major purpose of Thanksgiving is to remind ourselves that we were created by a personal, loving God, who became one of us through the incarnation. As a human, Jesus died, and his death came violently. But Jesus defeated death in the resurrection and gave that gift of new life to all of us. Because of this unique relationship we have with the Risen Christ, we are strongly encouraged, to praise and give gratitude to our loving God, and not just a surface gratitude, but rather, a gratitude given with all our heart. In Christian gratitude, God is seen as the giver of all good things. Because of this, there is a great sense of indebtedness that helps us share a common bond of gratitude for all we’ve received. Thanksgiving Day is a special time to reflect on all the good gifts we’ve received and the need for gratitude in our lives. This should also be something we do daily.
In addition, we should be grateful for all our life experiences, both the positive and the negative, because both kinds of experiences can be sources of grace and growth in our lives. Are you grateful for all those positive experiences? Even more importantly, are you grateful for the personal growth that comes from the painful experiences as well? We may not appreciate the negative experiences as they happen in our lives, but with prayer and reflection, we often find that we’ve grown, that we’ve become stronger women and men because of them. In all things, we give thanks!
Thanksgiving is also a time to consciously take the opportunity to show your gratitude to all the people in your life who love and support you. Tell them in person. If they are not with you call them. Don’t let a day of giving thanks pass by without being thankful for their presence in your life whether it’s now or in the past.
I encourage you to reflect on your personal experience of God’s presence and the presence of others in your lives. I also encourage you to find all the reasons you have to be grateful. Make this the most meaningful Thanksgiving you have ever experienced.
Praise God. Give thanks, for God is good; God’s love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1)
Who are the important people in your life?
How can you thank them for that presence?
In what ways are you grateful to God?