After Thanksgiving, thanksgiving

After we have all gathered around our tables, thankful for the meal that we shared with family and friends, the true test of thankfulness begins.
It is easy to be thankful on Thanksgiving. The holiday’s name itself renders us an attitude of thankfulness, but what about a week later, when the left overs have long been eaten, family has returned home, and we return to our normal daily routines? Or to add even more difficulty, the shopping for Christmas presents, and spending money on more stuff when just a week earlier, we were thankful for what we already had.
The Scriptures calls us to always be in an attitude of thanksgiving because it is God’s will for us (1 Thess. 5:18). However, before we grumble and complain that we have to be thankful because God told us to, the command of thankfulness should be looked at as not an obligation ultimately, but instead a pathway to joy.
Gratitude is a quality that is part and parcel to the Christian experience, which is why an ungrateful Christian is somewhat of an oxymoron, in other words those terms are mutually exclusive. God has provided so much in terms of physical sustenance, such as food and clothing.  His provision stretches to every means and method that keeps all physical life flourishing, including ordaining and maintaining the distance between us and the blazing ball in the sky called the sun. The care and provision of God for creation itself is enough for all of us to be eternally grateful.
Yet there is an even greater expression of God’s provision that extends way beyond just sustaining creation, and it is the main reason for Christian gratitude, that being God gave us his Son. Now I realize for some readers that statement is unimpressive, perhaps even some Christians will read that, and for various reasons fail to see the glory in that reality, but I want to remind us all how important that demonstration is, and why that giving us Christ is the source of thanksgiving.
Christ is the mediator between a holy God and sinful man and the only way by which the two can be reconciled (1 Tim. 2:5). Without Christ, we are hopeless, fallen and forever doomed to face an eternity of just condemnation. The world is not owed salvation, and to be blunt, we as individuals do not deserve a Savior. In spite of all this however, God, to the praise of his glorious grace, sent Christ and through him we have access to eternal life with God.
God has indeed done much through Christ, yet Christian gratitude is not expressed in trying to pay God back for what he has done, because we can’t even if we tried.  Rather the expression of gratitude is one of praise.
In Psalm 100:4 says “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Through the act of thanksgiving-praising God for what he has done, the Psalmist shows that the relationship that God has with his people (who are thankful) is celebratory in nature. To put it in another way, gratitude is not about grudgingly returning favors, rather it is an expression of joy and exaltation concerning who God is and what he has done.
Think about it practically, isn’t it true the most joyful people are also the most thankful, and vise versa? For example, since it is the Christmas season, consider Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol”, hardly a character synonymous with joy and thanksgiving. Except when he returns from his escapades with the Ghosts of Christmas and realizes how much he had been given. After those events, we see Scrooge turn from a miser to missile of explosive celebration.
As we wind down from Thanksgiving and wind up for Christmas, I hope that you would retain the attitude of gratitude even amidst the hustle and bustle that this season unfortunately can result in. God has given each and every one of us more than we deserve and continues to give moment by moment from his steadfast love and faithfulness. Regardless if our Thanksgiving celebrations are over for this year, every day should be a day of thanksgiving.

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