Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
When you think about Thanksgiving, what comes to mind? Giving thanks, spending time with family and friends, volunteering at a soup kitchen, football games, parades, eating endless amounts of delicious food food, or maybe it’s the Thanksgiving food coma?
Thanksgiving has a long history, beginning Thursday, November 24, 1621, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people shared an autumn harvest feast to give thanks for the pilgrims’ first corn harvest. In 1827, prolific writer and author Sarah Josepha Hale, nicknamed “The Mother of Thanksgiving,” campaigned to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. But it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday after taking notice of Hale’s campaign and issuing a proclamation pleading for all Americans to ask God to “heal the wounds of the nation.”
Even though Thanksgiving was originally intended to give thanks to God on a particular day, Christ followers can celebrate every day as a day of “thanksgiving” to the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
In last weekend’s service, we were introduced to the latest installment of our At the Movies series, CODA. In CODA, Ruby faced many challenges. She had to navigate personal fears, family dynamics, the demands of her school’s choir, and preparing for an audition for Berklee College of Music.
Jesus never promised us that life as his followers would be easy.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
How can we keep our peace in the midst of our struggles? One of the easiest ways is by giving thanks.
Ryan Fehr, a world-renowned expert on gratitude, says, “During a difficult time, gratitude is more important than ever.” He has penned five steps to gratitude in tough times.
Step 1: Put your gratitude on paper
Write down the names of three people or things in your life you are grateful for and why.
Step 2: Have a gratitude conversation
Have a conversation with a friend, family member or coworker to share what you’re most grateful for.
Step 3: Tell someone you appreciate them
Identify a specific person in your life and tell them why you are grateful for them over the phone or video chat.
Step 4: Pay it forward
Find a way to show your gratitude to someone in your life by helping them in some small way.
Step 5: Reflect and repeat
Take a few moments to reflect on how your gratitude exercises went and commit to at least one act of gratitude every week.
Let Ruby’s story be a reminder that the easiest path doesn’t always produce the best results. And if you find yourself in the middle of a personal struggle this Thanksgiving day, remember true peace is not found in the absence of conflict—it’s knowing God and giving thanks for his goodness in the midst of it.
How will you celebrate Thanksgiving? Will you include giving thanks to God for the many blessings he has given you?
How do you approach challenges? Do you thank God for these challenges, knowing they will lead to a life rich in his blessings? Do you trust in God during these times? If not, why?
Reread Ryan Fehr’s five steps to gratitude in tough times and begin incorporating them into your daily life.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your love that helps me through my challenges. Thank you for the peace in my heart when I trust in you. Thank you for your promise to be near me in dark times. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.
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