In just a few weeks Americans will gather with family and friends for a feast like none other. No presents will be exchanged, no twinkling lights will be hung for this season, no special songs will be sung and even as soon as the leftover meal is packed into the Tupperware, a frenzy of shopping and decorating will begin for the next holiday.
Thanksgiving is a season we give very little time to. I have been guilty throughout my adult life of rushing through Thanksgiving so I can direct the hauling out of the Christmas decorations on Friday. We have all heard that the Spirit of Christmas should be practiced throughout the year. But I propose our lives would be more fulfilling if we practiced the Spirit of Thanksgiving throughout the year!
Thanksgiving was begun for no other reason but to thank our Lord and Maker for His provision and protection. The Pilgrims had suffered much and lost more during their first year in their new life. However, they knew that God had brought them to this land and had sustained them to create a country grounded in their faith.
If you have lived very many years on this earth, you have surely suffered and lost. But God has sustained you and brought you to this time and place to live out and share your faith. Even in the midst of turmoil, sickness, loss or a bad economy, we have so much to be thankful for. If you live in the USA, you are one of the wealthiest people in the world. Even our poor have so much more than the poor in most parts of the world. Those who are sick in body have access to medical care beyond compare.
This Thanksgiving will mark a decade since my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It will also mark seven years since our son and his then girlfriend told us that they had made a bad decision and were facing teen pregnancy. Their choice resulted in the heartache of giving our first grandson up for adoption. I could choose to see Thanksgiving as a time of pain and sadness. Instead, I choose to give thanks through my trials.
The last ten years have brought a complete change in the way I live because of my disease and subsequent disability but the years have also brought me closer to my Jesus and have allowed me to live a life that gives me time to pursue my passions for writing and the paper arts. The seven years of not having my grandson near to call my own has brought me moments of heart wrenching grief but I have had many more moments of sheer joy at seeing how God turned a difficult situation to one of fulfillment and growth.
My son’s and his girlfriend’s heart breaking choice to bless an infertile couple with their child has given that couple joy beyond measure and they have provided their adopted son with a life of stability and happiness that those two teens could not have. We are blessed beyond belief to have an open adoption and be able to see this precious child grow up through photos, facebook postings and occasional meetings. Our son and his girlfriend went their separate ways, finished school, graduated from college and married other people. Our son has grown in his faith and become a youth minister who can relate to other young men who face the temptations and struggles of this world and can hopefully save them from making the same mistakes. How can I not be thankful to a God who works ALL things “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I know as you look at your life through the eyes of thankfulness you will be able to find an abundance of things to be thankful for. Don’t let the next few weeks be spent thinking ahead to Christmas, take this precious month to give thanks to your Maker. When Thanksgiving is over, determine in your heart to live with the Spirit of Thanksgiving every month of the year.