Today is Thanksgiving Day in America. The day that was initially set aside for giving thanks for our blessings. It was originally celebrated in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts when the colonist and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest. Various colonies celebrated various dates to commemorate the remembrance of God’s Blessings on them. It wasn’t until 1863 during the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that a national day of remembrance would be held in November each year. Presidents Washington, Adams, and Madison all designated days for thanks during their presidencies.
In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Lincoln’s date up one week from the fourth Thursday to the third but in 1941 Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November. Thus, we began or made official a federal holiday designed to remind every American of our historic blessings and urged everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status to Give Thanks. This holiday has morphed into a commercial event and many simply see it as an extended weekend where there is an overload of football and food with no real thought as to the Giving of Thanks! That is tragic.
Paul urged the Thessalonians to develop an attitude of gratitude in which they were in a continual state of rejoicing and prayer. He coupled with those directives that they were to “give thanks in everything” and if you will allow, “for everything.” No, I did not say that we are to desire difficulty or disaster but in the midst of every event in life, we are directed from the Holy Scripture to BE THANKFUL and GIVE THANKS!
I am reminded of a story that I heard some years back that might be beneficial in helping us recognize our blessings and open the door to the development of an attitude of gratitude.
Two friends, Bob and Jake met on the street of their town and Bob said to Jake, “Jake, I am having the worst luck. My car broke down and it is going to cost over a thousand dollars to repair.” Jake nodded and said, “Could have been worse.” Bob, took that as an encouraging word and went on his way. The next week they met again at the coffee shop and Bob said, “Jake, my luck is going from bad to worse, the pipes burst in my house and flooded everything. It will cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair and I’ll be out of my home for several weeks.” Jake nodded and said, “Could have been worse.” Bob, again took that as a word of good advice and went on his way.
In a couple of weeks, they met again, and Bob said, “Jake, things keep getting worse all the time. Not only did my car break down and cost me a lot of money, then my house flooded and cost me a fortune and displaced my family. Now, my boss told me that they are phasing out my job and at my age, it will be almost impossible to find suitable work.” Jake nodded and said, “Could have been worse.” Bob, grew angry and said, “Jake you keep telling me that, but I ask, “How could it be worse.” Jake said, “It could have happened to me.”
Every event in life is viewed from a particular grid and perspective. If we look at things as happening to us we turn our focus inward and find it difficult if not impossible to be thankful. We open the door to depression, discouragement, and despair. Self-focus is the enemy of Gratitude and Thanksgiving. If we view the events of life as opportunities for God to demonstrate His love, power, and purpose and rather than looking at the matter with a “woe is me” attitude we look upward things change. No, the situation is still the same, but we are different, and in our difference, we can truly Give Thanks in Everything! It is in that state of mind and attitude of heart that we open the door for the Blessings of God to flow.
It has been said that if one focuses on what they have they will want more. If they focus on what they do not have they will grow bitter. If one focuses on God and others we find that no matter how difficult our situation is, there are blessings we have overlooked. Helen Keller once said, “It has been said that life has treated me harshly, and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me.” She developed an Attitude of Gratitude.
I encourage everyone to remember the quote of Benjamin Franklin, “For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! May the rich and bountiful blessings of the LORD come to you this day and may your heart be warmed by His presence, peace, power, purpose, and love. God bless you!