In a world where enough is never enough, in a world that is driven by go-getters, in a world where we so often compare ourselves to others, it becomes increasingly difficult to mirror the words of the Psalmist who declared:
Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and God’s courts with praise. Give thanks to God and bless God’s name. For the Lord is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever, and God’s faithfulness to all generations.
It’s not easy to be upbeat and grateful when you believe that you never get what you want – and you always get what you don’t want. It’s so hard to remain positive in a society that’s inundated with negative news.
I was watching the news recently and found myself intrigued and a little sad when the anchor said, “Coming up next: We’ll explore why Americans are so mad!”
Even in the church, we hear so many angry voices that we can be tempted to believe the whole world is mad. It’s no wonder that some people approach Thanksgiving as if there is little for which to be thankful. Especially if they make their decision to be thankful or happy based on what they possess, what they can or can’t buy, and how they feel.
Everyday, I meet people with few material possessions or little notoriety, and yet they have such positive, upbeat, and grateful hearts. In the western world we tend to be so object-driven, which is antithetical to what the Bible teaches, leading us to be so unhappy, so angry, and in some cases, so depressed. The scripture says: But, rather seek the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you. Now, I realize that just saying this will never make it happen. But before we can be healed, we must have a diagnosis of the ailment.
church can be helpful as we struggle with our material desires by
providing us with alternatives. We must invite those who are new to the
church to a life in Christ. For those who have already made commitments
to Christ, we must invite them to reexamine their priorities, aligning
themselves with God’s desire for their lives.
We must teach repeatedly that we are called to make the “kingdom of God our top priority,” until it becomes a guiding principle and a part of our spiritual DNA. We must teach that we are blessed to be a blessing to others, so that giving becomes a joyful expression of thanksgiving for the saving act of grace by Jesus on Calvary.
All over Holston, people are already practicing this:
People who are discovering that $10 will buy a mosquito net and save up to four lives.
People who give to end the killer disease of HIV/AIDS.
People who make prayer shawls so that others will be warmed by their handiwork and prayers.
People who in death make sure that new churches are birthed through their estates.
People who open their churches to the homeless and hungry.
People who spend their vacation time to be with rambunctious youth who are excited about Jesus.
People who visit prisons and offer Christ’s love that sets us free.
People who stand with the powerless in their communities.
People who build homes and lives for those swept away by water and fire.
If you look closely, these people are smiling – lifting their hands to God in praise and thanksgiving for being given the opportunity to serve the God of their salvation by serving others.
To these people I say, Happy Thanksgiving, and keep it going.