Maintaining Thanksgiving


The holiday of Thanksgiving has passed. Our stomach’s might be still full, or at least our refrigerators still have some remains of turkey and gravy. We are about to close on this “thankful month” all together. So. Now what?

Black Friday slammed us in the face, and the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is already upon us. Our minds have shifted from the central point of thanks, to the thoughts of what’s next on our to-do list, our shopping list, our Christmas card list. As we approach the Christmas season, I want to encourage each of us to maintain, at least try to maintain, a heart full of thanksgiving.

Last blog I mentioned sacrificial thanksgiving, the kind of thanksgiving that is uttered even in our darkest moments. But how are we able to get there, if in our everyday life, thanksgiving is not towards the front of our minds, or the echo of our hearts’ cry?

A beautiful thing about thanksgiving is it puts us in our place. My favorite musical of all time is Fiddler on the Roof. The dancing is entertaining, the music is superb, the love stories are unforgettable…but the reason why I can watch this movie over and again is because Tevye’s relationship with God fascinates me. (Heartbreakingly, he is missing the Gospel because he and his family are still awaiting the Messiah’s coming.) However, what Tevye does know about God, and how he relates to God, is truly inspiring. You see Tevye, often looking towards the sky, talks to God. I love how symbolic that is (whether it’s meant to be or not) as Tevye knew God’s place and he knew his place. He realizes how majestic God is and that God is in control, and in turn how lowly he is and obedient he must be in comparison. Yet, with seeing who God is, and in turn who he is, Tevye still has a remarkably close relationship with God. His family was poor, he never bore a son, yet he was content.

If we approach life with a proud heart and the idea that we are entitled to certain things, then the roots in our hearts will not be ones of thanksgiving. So, project. Go outside and look at the sunset. Or play with your dog. Or do something that takes your mind off of, well, you. As we step back from being in the center of our world, and look up, we realize the distance between our Maker and ourselves. A phrase that I live by almost daily is, ‘God is God, and I am not.’ But oh, how freeing that is!

The more we look to God and see Him for what He is, and in-turn look at the Scriptures to see ourselves for who we are, and then who God says we are, then what I find overflowing in my heart is thanksgiving. Because wow. Oh wow. What a huge difference between our infinite and perfect God and ME a finite and imperfect human! But the Story does not stop there – because Jesus bridged the gap between God and me so that we can have a lifelong and eternity-full relationship together.

I don’t know about you, but this truth causes my heart to be filled with thanksgiving. This Christmas season, in the midst of our celebrations and stresses, let’s remember who God is, and in turn, who we are. Let’s let this truth be the reason that we can maintain hearts of thanksgiving…even in the midst of our to-do lists, shopping lists, and Christmas cards lists.

Verses to mediate on this week:

Who God Says He Is:       

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Jonah 4:2 “O Lord…I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”

1 Timothy 6:15-16 “[God] who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”

1 John 1:9 “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Romans 8:31-39 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Who God Says We Are:

Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

Ephesians 3:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

Colossians 1:9-14 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

My prayer for you is that everyday, no matter how mundane or stressful it can be, that your hear will be filled with thanksgiving – continual thanksgiving which can only come from remembering who He is, and who we are. And especially remembering how good and gracious God is to bridge the gap between the two, in order for us to have continual fellowship with our Maker!

Kelly Arena

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