Choosing to be thankful

This month families across our nation will gather around tables to celebrate the many blessings we have. As we do each year, we’ll circle up with family and friends, eat more than we should, and remember the story of the first Thanksgiving, that took place in November of 1621 when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first harvest.

Being thankful is something we don’t hear a lot about these days. Our airways are full of people complaining. Our streets are sometimes full of protestors. Even the day after we celebrate Thanksgiving, someone gets trampled or in a fist fight over a deal at the local mall. No wonder we call that Black Friday.

In Philippians 4:11-13 NLT the Apostle Paul helps us understand what it means to be truly thankful. “ . . . for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

I think Paul is indicating that we have a choice. We can choose to be thankful for what we have no matter how little or how much. Notice that he says, “I’ve learned to be content.” This takes time to change our normal response. It takes focus and the discipline to choose to be thankful (or content).

All of this reminds me of a rather obscure Bible verse that we used to sing in our small church when I was young. I remember it catching me off guard, probably because my first reaction to everything in verse 17 would be to cry out and complain; certainly not rejoice!

This song wasn’t even in a minor key but it sure was a reminder that we should give thanks in everything.

Habakkuk 3: 17-19 NLT “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength!”