As Christians, we celebrate every fourth Thursday in November as a day to give thanks to God for the blessings and abundance which has been part of the history of this nation; we also celebrate the grace, mercy and peace He has added to our lives through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the presence of His Holy Spirit with us always.
To forget or refuse to give thanks would be to walk away from a benefit we need. Life is not perfectly even: there are heartaches and tragedies, fears and anxieties, people whose lives torment us and let us down. BUT . . . we are never alone, never without hope, never completely defeated; we always have an eternally perfect future to look forward to, and the opportunity to watch God use our lives, as well as the calling to move forward with Him.
As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: "We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed." Yet it's not just the ability to survive difficulty or overcome pain that marks the Christian life.
Paul goes on in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: "We never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts for ever."
We are constantly renewed by God's Holy Spirit which means we're built up, strengthened and reenergized. As a result we're able to look past immediate challenges and problems to a guaranteed, eternal outcome in heaven. Should we not be thankful for that?
In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul says, "I have learnt to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learnt this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me."
What is that power? What enables us to be content, satisfied and even grateful in every circumstance (as much as we wish we could have avoided some of them)? We belong to God! We have seen the love of God on the Cross and the power of God in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
More to the point: we have a future not just a past, or a pile of current feelings. We are secure in God's grace and His love. AND . . . we have a purpose: to share with the world -- family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances -- Good News: the same hope, encouragement, blessings and salvation that we've received is available to them.
So be thankful today. First because it's a national day for thanksgiving, but even more importantly because what's been given us is more than political, more than social, even more than historical: it's eternal; the eternal presence of God with us and eternal life with Him someday in heaven!