There are abundant reasons for Thanksgiving in today’s news if you look hard enough.
Some stories are obvious: The stock market is headlining the morning papers because it closed yesterday above 19,000 for the first time in history. CNN reports that a mammoth oil field discovery in West Texas is the largest in the US. And The New York Times tells us that dementia rates are dropping in America even as our population continues to age.
Other stories are more obscure: A robot has been devised that will cut your grass and shovel your snow. The Washington Post reports that 47 percent of the world now uses the Internet (that’s good news for Internet-based ministries like ours). According to the BBC, motorcycle taxi drivers in Tanzania, often criticized for risking the lives of their riders, are now being trained to provide medical services.
Here’s my point: if we have an attitude of gratitude, we can always find reasons for thanksgiving. Why is such an attitude so important?
This week we’re exploring reasons why God calls his children to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Yesterday, we noted that giving thanks to our Father positions us as creatures before our Creator, teaching us the humility that admits our need of God and seeks his grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Today, let’s focus on another aspect of thanksgiving: its capacity for building our faith.
My family is especially grateful today for the gift of life. Our oldest son and his wife gave birth this week to a son. Janet and I are celebrating another grandchild and the manifold blessings of our Lord. As Carl Sandburg noted, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” If our Father can create the miracle of life, what can he not do?
When we take time to reflect on all God has done for us, we are moved with gratitude for what he did in the past, but we are also encouraged to trust him for what we need in the present and the future. Our Lord is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Anything he did on Tuesday he can do on Wednesday and Thursday.
Our culture bases happiness on happenings and confuses success with significance. But God knows that abundant living is not dependent on anything as fleeting as today’s circumstances. He invites us to enter his gates of worship and provision with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4), knowing that gratitude is the gateway to faith that receives our Father’s best for our lives.
What makes thanksgiving difficult for you today? What challenges are competing with gratitude? Remember a time in the past when God met needs like yours, whether it was forgiving sin, healing pain, restoring relationships, or working in another transforming way. Look to Scripture, human history, or your personal experiences for examples of such grace. Now claim the fact that all God has done, he can still do. Give thanks for his past favor and claim his provision for your present needs (Philippians 4:19).
Ralph Waldo Emerson testified, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” Do you agree?