In his first Thanksgiving proclamation, George Washington urged all Americans to "... unite in rendering unto God sincere and humble thanks for his kind care and protection of the people of this country, and for all the great and various favors which he has been pleased to confer upon us."
Thanksgiving is a great American tradition. Sometimes, though, everything traditional about Thanksgiving survives except giving thanks. So during this season of Thanksgiving, be thankful.
Thank God for life.
This miraculous mixture of conscious clay is fragile. Everything depends on the next heartbeat and breath. Since you are here today a living breathing person be thankful. Try giving thanks each morning that you're alive and see what it does for your attitude throughout the day.
Thank God for your family and friends. Appreciate the affection of those closest to you. Let them know you're thankful for them.
Paul, the apostle, wrote to the church at Philippi and told the members there that he gave thanks every time he thought about them, Philippians 1:3.
Was this a perfect church? Not at all. Two of the members were frequently fighting, but he gave thanks for them anyhow.
Give thanks for the basics of life. Food, shelter and clothing ought to make us grateful every day. Stop taking common blessings for granted.
Express thanks daily for freedom. Cherish liberty and recognize it as a gift from God. Thank him for the Bible and the vital part it has played in setting us free. Horace Greeley wrote, "It is impossible to mentally and socially enslave a Bible reading people."
"A nice list of thoughts for Thanksgiving, but I don't feel thankful," you say.
You're not alone.
Many are struggling with problems that seem overwhelming.
How can one be thankful when things aren't going well?
Matthew Henry, the famous English Bible commentator and scholar, was once attacked and robbed. That night he wrote the following in his diary:
"Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my money, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."
Henry's outlook is expressed in the well-known quote: "Praise the Lord, anyhow!"
And even Henry didn't originate this positive, praising passion.
Long ago, the prophet Habakkuk wrote: "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation," Habakkuk 3:17-18.
And here you are pouting instead of praising.
The ability to be thankful in all situations rests entirely on faith. Tranquility rises out of trust. Anyone can give thanks during soft breezes and sunshine but faith enables us to be thankful when storms are raging and the future is uncertain. Those who place full faith in God can be thankful, anyhow!
Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He has written more than 20 books and has had articles published in most major Christian magazines. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.
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