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With the avalanche of anxiety-producing stories in the news, aren't you glad we can pause this week and express gratitude to God for our manifold blessings? Let's consider 10 areas often overlooked that can cultivate the attitude of gratitude we need personally and in our families.
Living in our increasingly secular society, it's important we remind ourselves and our families of the pertinent facts concerning the holiday of Thanksgiving (yesterday I shared the story with three Jews selling beauty products in our mall after giving them my gospel tract).
In 1863, a Christian president, Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed a national day of "thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in heaven."
Sometimes gratitude comes easily, and sometimes it requires discipline. Giving thanks is easy when a new baby is born. It's not as easy to give thanks when we lose a loved one. It's one thing to give thanks when the bills are paid, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Giving thanks is another thing when you're sick and facing financial troubles.
But the Bible says that we should "give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever," (Ps. 136:1). We give thanks to the Lord because He is good. If God ceases to be good, then I suppose we could stop giving thanks, but because He will never cease to be good, we can continue to give Him thanks.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always. And again. I say rejoice". When Paul wrote those words, he was in prison. Job is another biblical example. He lost everything dear to him, including his seven sons and three daughters. Yet the Bible tells us that despite these horrific circumstances, Job gave thanks, saying, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21).
The Pilgrims who landed on Cape Cod in November 1620 were devout followers of Christ who had left the comforts of home, family and friends to pursue their vision of a renewed and reformed Christianity. They were not whiners but chose to maintain an attitude of gratitude even through the most trying times, such as the winter of 1620-21 when sickness ravaged their community and half of them—about 50—were taken away in death.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims after they gathered in their harvest in the fall of 1621, about one year after their landing at Cape Cod. Although their hearts were still heavy from the losses suffered the previous winter, there were at least three areas for which they felt particularly grateful to God.
1. With the arrival of spring, the sickness that had immobilized the community and taken many of them in death had lifted.
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