During Thanksgiving, it always seems odd to me that we have a specific holiday to remind us to be grateful for our lives, our freedoms, and our blessings.
Thanksgiving is not a worldwide holiday. Canada has their own version of it, but I am not so sure about other countries.
In the US, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 as a religious and public time of prayer, worship, feasting and fellowship dictated by the Calvinist pilgrim magistrate, William Bradford, and joined by the native tribe in the area, lead by Chief Massasoit. It was a three day festival to celebrate the peace, provision, harvest, and grace given to the settlers during the previous year.
George Washington is the one who issued the first ‘national’ Thanksgiving proclamation. However, it wasn’t until 1941 that it was adopted as a national holiday.
However, shouldn’t we be grateful everyday?
Philippians 4:4-7 says,
Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.
These are commands, not a suggestions, rejoice and don’t be anxious. They come with simple instructions on prayer, with the result of living serene and anxiety-free.
In AA, we are taught grateful alcoholics don’t get drunk and told, “if you’re not praying, you’re not staying (sober)”. I was taught to make a gratitude list and meditate on it, especially when feeling discouraged, down, or depressed. To remember what I am grateful for and what I stand to lose if I drink or use again. I had my top ten list. But, it was always the same ten. I didn’t really go beyond that for a long time.
Later, as a Christian, I started learning more about true thankfulness and praising God for his goodness and walking with me through my struggles.
A professor of mine really blew this door wide open for me with an assignment. Write down five things per day I am thankful for everyday for the 8 week term. The provisos, no repeats…! My top ten list lasted 2 days… In less than a week, I started to have trouble because all the big stuff and important people in my life were already on the list. I also found out quickly, I had to look back frequently to make sure I hadn’t already written something or someone down. I started to list some things that I had considered pretty mundane, but realized I was still thankful for them…things like pork egg rolls. The ability to occasionally purchase, eat, and enjoy pork egg rolls is something I appreciate…!
The more I wrote, the more I had to review what I wrote, the more grateful I became for each thing on my list, the more I praised God for all the blessings in my life!!!
It was powerful!
To be thankful every day for all the blessings and mercies in my life, from the most profound to the most overlooked and mundane, is how I need to live. Then, I am able to follow Paul’s command to rejoice always. Then, I am able to be content in any circumstance and not be anxious, because as Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
It all begins with THANKSGIVING every day!