In a few short hours I will probably be a sleep somewhere. It won’t be intentional but it will be reality nonetheless. I will stuff myself with delicious food and then, despite having poured coffee own top of that food, I will still sit down to watch football with family and quickly pass out. That’s how I celebrate Thanksgiving. Enjoying great food, family, and a nap. I love Thanksgiving.
It’s easy for me to appreciate today how very blessed I am. When I pause to contemplate all the many things God has done, does, and will do for me I can’t help but be thankful for it. But the truth is that thankfulness does not come naturally to me, nor to anyone really. It’s easy to lose focus, become greedy, and to let discontentment rule our hearts. Those feelings too comes out in full force on one day a year, it’s called Black Friday. But discontentment is honestly a more natural impulse all year round for most of us. So how can we express thankfulness throughout the year? It begins with some proper perspective.
I think it’s important, first of all, to remember who I am. This is really a two-step process. First, I must remember that I am a sinner, born a sinner, and deserving of nothing but hell. American culture tells us constantly that we deserve something. We’ve earned it. We merely need to lay claim to what is rightfully ours. God tells us differently. We’ve earned his judgment, and we have no other rights to lay claim to. When I put myself in this perspective I realize how quickly I am blessed by God to even be alive at this moment, let alone all the myriad of blessings he has given me already.
In addition to recognizing my sinfulness, it’s important to remember who else I am. If I am a Christian I must remember too that I am a child of the living God of the universe. The God who created the world, who rules over it with sovereign power, and who controls all the things in my individual life, is also the God who loves me and wants to greatly bless me. I can think of the countless benefits that are mine in Christ now. I have access to “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). I have an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4). What could I want more than what I have already received. Black Friday will come and go and maybe you’ll get some great deals, but the best deal you ever got was the free gift of salvation that took a black heart and made in white as snow. You and I have already been blessed beyond what we deserve as children of God.
It’s important too, if I am going to be thankful year round, to remember who God is. The Bible tells us many things about God, perhaps one of the more memorable features of God’s personhood is encapsulated in the verse that reads, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). “The Lord is good, and his love endures forever” (Psalm 100:5). And when I understand this, and when I understand his love for me, how can I be discontent? I think of what Paul says:
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
God is trustworthy, reliable, good, faithful, and true. All that I need I can trust him to provide, and I know that he wants what’s best for me. Which leads me to a third consideration.
If I am going to be thankful I must remember, in addition, that my wants are not the same as my needs. It’s so very easy to become obsessed with things that we want but don’t have. And again American culture teaches ut to think that everything we want we must have. But there is a difference between wants and needs. And as God is in control, and as God knows all things, then He knows what is ultimately best for us and what is not good for us to have. So we must trust Him to work those things out. If God does not give us what we want, we know it must be for a good reason (Rom. 8:28; Psalm 84:11). Trust His goodness and distinguish in your own mind between wants and needs.
It’s easy to be thankful today, but it will be especially hard tomorrow. It’s really all about perspective and thinking careful about who we are, who God is, and what our needs are. Trust God friends, he has already given you and I more than we could ever deserve. And one day we will have more than we could ever imagine. Thankfulness ought to be the attitude of the Christian all year round…even on the day after Thanksgiving.
*For some other thoughts on Black Friday itself, check out this article I wrote a few years back.