Why Give Thanks?

We know we get the day off from work. Typically we enjoy an oversized dinner after which the men retreat to the living room to sleep it off under the glow of a football game while the women talk about the men as they do the dishes.

That’s what our holiday often looks like.

But is that Thanksgiving?

We’ve all been touched by messages about why it’s so good to be thankful. And on some level, we recognize that if we lived by clichés our life really would be better.

After all, it seems like it would be better to always live with an attitude of gratitude.

But there’s so much we are frustrated by.

This is particularly true for those of us who feel a tremendous sense of anxiety about the state of the world.

We have no idea when the economy is going to recover.

The First Amendment is under serious attack.

The threat from radical Islamic terror is no longer just “over there”.

That’s not to mention all the things in our own lives and families that are broken.

If you feel like it would be nice to be thankful but reality is in the way, spend a moment thinking about the premise of thankfulness.

Thankfulness is a function of our reality compared to our expectations. When reality is better than what we expect or feel we deserve, we’re thankful. When reality is worse than we expect or feel we deserve, we become bitter and angry.

If you win the lottery, you’re going to be thankful because, though they told you that “some lucky dog’s gonna win it”, you never thought that lucky dog was going to be you.

I don’t thank people every time they walk by me without punching me in the nose. After all, I have the expectation that they will not.

Instead of being thankful to each person who doesn’t assault me, I would be quite put off by the person who did.

So it is in all of life. The moment we feel entitled to something is the moment we cease to be thankful for it. After all, I deserve it.

For Christians, a sense of entitlement is particularly troubling because we know that we deserve hell.

I don’t want to minimize the real pain that exists in people’s lives in an attempt to encourage gratitude. Nor do I think a recognition of how little we are genuinely entitled to should cause us to be apathetic to the needs of others.

But this Thanksgiving, if you have a few minutes, sit down with your family and make a list of the things you think you are entitled to. My guess is that the more things you have on that list, the likelier it will be that you are finding it hard to fully participate in the spirit of this particular holiday.

But, if the only item on the list of things you deserve is “hell”?

Well, Happy Thanksgiving indeed.

3 replies
  1. Cindy Zapotocky
    Cindy Zapotocky says:

    We in Spokane have suffered a massive wind storm that really was a hurricane….we ourselves went for a week without electricity…..wood stove, fireplaces and even generators have to be fed 24/7 when the temperatures at night at in the teens like tonight. Valiant linemen working overtime hours, have come into Spokane by the hundreds to try to help. When our power came back on yesterday, I tell you what….we were THANKFUL!!! But still, thousands here are still without it, and I finally started thinking about them today across the street, and went door to door to check on them. They are miserable but resilient and hopeful. It felt so good to try to help others……let us be thankful, even in hard times, for God’s purposes in our lives that we may not understand, but for which we can praise Him/ Some people were killed in this storm, and we are praying for their families to comforted. If this storm is what it takes to remind us that the world around us needs light and love, then so be it. More than anything tomorrow, I will be grateful for God getting my attention as to the bottom line of what it means to be a follower of Jesus…..”Love one another as I have loved you.”

    Reply
    • Clark Kent
      Clark Kent says:

      Whoa! Settle down, amigo! No need to get on your high horse. Just throttle down and let folks enjoy being thankful the way they see fit. No need for an over-the-top social commentary. Now, pass the pumpkin pie…..

      Reply

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