When I think about the holidays, one word comes to mind: Overwhelmed. It feels like there's too much to do and too little time. So I conducted a non-scientific poll and asked some friends, "What word comes to mind when you think about the upcoming holidays?" Their responses were very telling: Christy said, "Happy!" My mom said, "Busy." Barb said, "Stressed." Barb's husband said, "Memories." I guess Barb's stress works - she makes the holidays memorable for her family! One lady said, "Sad" because there's been a death in her family. All of us might say, "Expensive." Some might say, "Exciting," while others may say, "Depressing." However, I noticed that no one said, "Thankful."
It seems that thankfulness is not our natural response to situations like holidays. Maybe our society has complicated things too much. Or maybe our schedules keep us too busy and distracted. Maybe selfishness has something to do with our lack of thankfulness - we expect too much from the holidays. All of these things are probably true: we should examine our society, schedules, and selfishness and get a proper perspective on how to celebrate the holidays. But more importantly, thinking about being thankful - or not being thankful - has forced me to examine my heart and ask myself, Am I thankful for the right things, for the right reasons this season?
I realized I was entering the holiday season with a wrong heart. I've been so busy focusing on my expectations and what I need to get done that I've failed to remember God and all He has done. We all need this perspective check. Let's take the focus off our emotions and ourselves and place the focus where it belongs: on God and His goodness to us. It is vitally important that we realize that being thankful is not a fuzzy feeling, it's a conscious decision.
Did you know that Thanksgiving must be proclaimed every year? It doesn't just happen, it comes by presidential order. The first Thanksgiving proclamation was written by Governor William Bradford in 1621 to compel the people to thank God for bringing them to the new land with religious freedom. In 1789, George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving, although some people were opposed to it (including Thomas Jefferson). Finally, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. Since Lincoln, Thanksgiving has been formally proclaimed by every president.God knows we aren't naturally thankful, so He reminds us over and over in the Bible to be thankful for the right things and the right reasons. And He points out the primary object of our thanks: Himself. The Psalmist wrote, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 118:1, emphasis added). So remember throughout the holidays (and the rest of the year) to "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!"
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