It’s Thanksgiving season again. The time to reflect on our lives, gather with family and consider our history as a country that was birthed by the drive to live in a new world where freedom and liberty set the foundation for society.
As Christians, many of us take time during Thanksgiving to refocus and prepare our hearts for the impending celebration of our Savior’s birth. We will reflect on blessings and hardships, explore areas of Christ’s intervention or answered prayers over the year, and we will look intently and intentionally at what we have. There will be many Facebook posts, blog posts, magazine stories, emails, and conversations about what thankfulness means and why we should be thankful.
The truth is, as believers we should be thankful. We have been given grace, salvation, forgiveness, freedom, and love. We have a hope that supersedes this temporary world and a future of glorious eternity to look forward to. Yet for so many of our sisters and brothers in Christ it is going to be difficult to have a thankful heart when they are distracted by the gnawing hunger in their belly. Others may not be able to lift their illness laden heads from a pillow long enough to smile with gratitude. And still others may be clawing through the darkness of suffering, unable to see the light of peace much less what they should be grateful for.
This is a time for reflection, refocus, and rest. It is a time for us to consider who God is and what He has done for us. Many of us have survived the year because of His faithfulness and provision and it is a time for us to praise God with thanks. But it is also a time to look at those around us. Our Christian family needs one another as this world is getting harder and harder. Let us look outward and use our grateful hearts as motivation to encourage those who are struggling and meet the needs of those who are suffering.
We have hope because of the finished work of Jesus Christ who tells us, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33 ESV) Let us use this promise as Paul did in his letter to the church at Corinth, reminding them of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ with words of thankful praise to the Lord and encouragement to his fellow believers:
“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes along side us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us along side someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us…” (2 Corinthians 1: 3-5 MSG)
Friends, I urge you to consider what your Savior has done for you in His grace or what He has brought you through in His mercy and faithfulness. But I also ask that we look outside of our own circumstances to those around us and let our gratitude spread as the hands and feet of love for those who need it. Thankfulness is contagious when it results in action.