Thankfulness that Transcends
Thanksgiving is the holiday that launches time with family, community activities and the feasts of the holiday season. It births the festivities we love and memories we cherish. However, this year holds SO many changes and interruptions to our tradition. You may be disappointed to not have certain family with you for the holiday or to have the opportunity to travel to see them. Or perhaps you are walking through the devastation of losing a loved one. How can you continue to celebrate without them? My hope for us all is to still remember the heart of this season: thankfulness that transcends or goes beyond the limits of challenges. In 1621, the first Thanksgiving was held at harvest time with the English Pilgrims and American Indians. The pilgrims had suffered so many hardships, which included the loss of spouses and children. They did not know the dangers and devastations which lay ahead, yet they gave thanks. More than two hundred years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” This holiday was cemented into our nation's culture during the civil war. In a time of division, conflict, and death, our nation gave thanks. Thanksgiving transcends challenges. What challenges are you facing today? There are so many stresses bombarding our lives--emotional, relational, moral, financial. Our nation is experiencing division and conflict that seems to build daily. Perhaps we can empathize in some way with the bold individuals in 1621 and 1863 who chose to give thanks despite difficult challenges.  The act of giving thanks encourages us. This encouragement is not simply a spark of joy but emboldens us with courage to press on and overcome: Encourage- to give courage to; to give or increase confidence of success; to inspire with courage, spirit, or strength of mind; to embolden; to animate; to incite; to inspirit.  I believe that the pilgrims and Abraham Lincoln were able to exercise this thanksgiving which produced courage. Their hope was not in what they could see with their natural eye or even control with their own strength. Their hope was in God, the One who is faithful and able to bring breakthrough in all circumstances. David experienced this as well as he faced years of multiple internal and personal difficulties as the King of Israel. His repeated conclusions were: “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can declare all His praise?”  David did not simply give thanks for things in his life, but rather for God Himself whose amazing attributes never fail. David also recognized God as his source of strength. I have personally found that Jesus Christ is the one who is both worthy of our praise and the source of courage and strength in all circumstances. He comes to my rescue and I can agree with David that the acts of the Lord are mighty. My hope is that you have the courage to give thanks no matter what obstacles you are facing during this season. May this holiday find your heart filled with thanksgiving and praise to Him!