The rush to transition from one holiday celebration to the next is clearly demonstrated and felt by those who work retail. For the consumer it seems like Valentine’s Day cards and candy come out mere hours after Christmas ends and the store aisles in mid-February are flooded with Easter pastels. Everyone’s in a hurry to move on to the next event before the Fourth of July barbecue has cooled. In the midst of the rush, however, it’s easy to overlook one important holiday – Thanksgiving.
Every October as I wander the stores, my heart breaks as gruesome masks and skimpy costumes fill one aisle while assorted individually wrapped candies fill the next. At the same time, twinkling lights illuminate the garland and wrapping paper spilling from the shelves. So much focus is devoted to holidays that give us things: a night when costumed children run around begging for candy and a day that has become less about the birth of Christ and more about the giving and receiving of gifts.
Sometimes you can find one or two end caps with pumpkins and turkeys, but somehow we manage to skip over the one day dedicated to being thankful.
When we overlook thankfulness, we become self-centered and negative, focusing only on what we don’t have and what we still want. As Christians, it’s more important than simply appreciating possessions. Thankfulness is a heart condition that affects every aspect of our lives, even our prayer lives.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
We’re not simply told to pray, we’re told to pray with thanksgiving. We can present Him with our list of wants and needs, but it’s only when we approach Him with a thankful heart that He promises us peace. His peace is more than an absence of conflict. The Bible tells us it’s a peace beyond our understanding, a peace that will guard our hearts and minds.
Paul takes thankfulness a step further in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, saying, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Not only are we to be thankful when we pass the test or get a great deal, we’re to be thankful when the things break and accidents happen. Thankfulness doesn’t depend on our circumstances. Thankfulness is a choice and a decision, one Christian’s must make. It’s also a decision we can make because our lives are more than this time on earth. We understand, “since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful.” (Hebrews 12:28)
We don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving or for others to recognize it as a holiday worth celebrating. We can choose to be thankful right now, where ever we are, whatever our circumstances, for giving thanks is God’s will for each of us.