Lynne and I pray that you will all have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week. Thanksgiving has always been family, food, and football for me, with a time to reflect on our real blessings in Christ.
Perhaps you also feel what I often feel at Thanksgiving ... that I'm being forced to be thankful. Yes, there's family, food, and football and whatever else Thanksgiving may bring for you (like shopping with family - please don't make me), but it's Thanksgiving, so we're supposed to be thankful because God-something. But sometimes I feel more guilt and pressure about giving thanks than I feel thankful.
Plus, I'm really bad at that "What are we thankful for?" question while the stuffing is getting cold. I'm thankful for warm stuffing, thank you very much! The question can be awkward, producing peer pressure to say something adequately thankful (but somehow only the little kids get a pass for saying something cute like, "I'm thankful for snot").
We don't always happen to feel thankful on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Some years, we can successfully reflect on our blessings and the feelings of thanksgiving come genuinely. Other years, we don't reflect or we reflect with no tangible result.
So, we fake it. Or we sour it for others. After all, this is not a holiday that God ordained for us - it's a national holiday with origins in a God-consciousness. It's not a sin against God to skip this holiday, right?
The Bible teaches us in several passages to "be thankful." That doesn't mean, "celebrate the American Thanksgiving," but it does mean to be thankful to God for who He is and what He's done. Why does God tell us so many times to be thankful?
Precisely because we don't always feel it, we sometimes feel forced to express it, we have been known to fake it, and at times, we just skip it. God tells us to be thankful for the same reasons that we sometimes struggle a bit on Thanksgiving - we're not naturally thankful at all times. But being thankful is not only what we ought to do, it's good for us. It's healthier to be thankful.
In other words, we do need to be told on occasion to be thankful because our nature sometimes draws us away from it. So, holidays on the calendar can be the exact external push we need to remember to be thankful, even if we do have to force it some, fake it some, and feel a little awkward at times. Not to be disingenuous, but to intentionally counter our own nature with some effort.
May this Thanksgiving be a genuine excuse to embrace a thankful heart yet again.