It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, not quite, but it’s almost the most wonderful time of the year. It’s no secret I absolutely love Christmas. Every year, I vow to be good and not celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but every year my resolve seems to go out the window. Even as I write this, Christmas piano music is playing on my Pandora radio station. This year, I’ve decided to blame Pinterest. Everyone is sharing Christmas decorating and food ideas, and naturally, it’s gotten me in the Christmas spirit. Still, we do have an important holiday coming up next week, and we shouldn’t bypass it altogether.
I have to be honest. There have been years I have wanted to forget about Thanksgiving. Everywhere you turn, people are talking about all the wonderful things they have in their lives for which they are thankful. Yet for some people, Thanksgiving is just a painful reminder of what they don’t have. I’ve found this to be especially true with people who are suffering with a chronic illness or the caregiver of someone who’s sick. It’s hard to be thankful when you’re going through a difficult time. From where you stand, all you can see are problems, heartache, pain, and loss. So why would you want to celebrate all the bad in your life?
Thoughts like these are all too familiar to me. I once actually made a list of all the reasons why I shouldn’t be thankful. I was jobless, had no money, sick with three illnesses, single, and lived with my parents. I’ll spare you the rest of the list. Needless to say, I was having a very big pity party for myself, and I could care less about a holiday in which you’re required to be thankful. If there was such a thing as a Thanksgiving Scrooge, I qualified. Bah Humbug!
I think that’s part of the reason why I love Christmas so much. It’s not about you or me, but it’s about Christ’s birth and giving to others. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a self-reflective holiday. Before eating the Thanksgiving meal, families even go around the table and every individual shares what he’s thankful for, something that’s incredibly stressful when you’re facing so many problems in your life. Yet one day, I realized something. Focusing on Christ isn’t an exclusive right of Christmas. We can and should focus on Him at Thanksgiving. Every good thing we have in our lives comes from God. Without God, none of us would have anything for which to be thankful. Instead of focusing on the things we’re thankful for, we need to be focused on the One who gave us the blessings.
Whatever you’re facing during this Thanksgiving season, know God is actively involved in your life. If you’re feeling a bit Scrooge-like, make a Thankful List. You might have to search to find items to put on the list, but they’re there. God hasn’t abandoned you. Focus on Him this Thanksgiving rather than the problems.
And if you’re one of those people who shares with others all the wonderful things in your life you’re thankful for, be aware of those around you. Not everyone is happy-go-lucky this time of year. I’m happy things are going well in your life and you should be thankful, but also be sensitive to the needs of those around you. Thanksgiving begins the time of year when more people struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide than any other time of the year, and it’s because people feel alone and forgotten. Allow God to use you and your season of blessing to minister to someone who’s going through a difficult time.
Whether you have many things to be thankful for or you feel you have nothing for which you can be thankful, remember that God loves you in ways you can never fully comprehend. He is with you in the good times and the bad times. He could no more forget you than you can forget to breathe. You are His precious child, and THAT is something to celebrate.
“So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; offer thanksgiving, tell the world what He’s done—sing it out!” ~ Psalm 107:22 (The Message)
© November 21, 2013