"Keeping the Thanks Going After Thanksgiving"
“Maintaining the Spirit of Thanksgiving”
The skeletal remains of a once plump and juicy turkey remind us of the good eating and family fellowship we enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day. Refrigerators full of leftovers call us in the middle of the night to snack on the last of the macaroni and cheese with that prize winning dressing only Auntie can make.
We fondly remember the family stories we hear from frozen in time uncles as we try to remember the names of children growing up faster than greased lightning.
Face book and Twitter, were ablaze with well wishes from real and virtual friends. Our homeless and disenfranchised population can usually enjoy a good meal at one of the many agencies serving food on that day as volunteers flock to give something back to the community.
The question is, “How do we maintain the spirit of Thanksgiving?”
Remember the past – we all have survived some tough times through the grace and mercy of God. My father was born 6/22/13 in Birmingham, Alabama, so conceivably his neighborhood was full of elders who could first hand remember the horrific brutality of slavery. This thought staggered me as I realized how close in 2015 I am to slavery. As a race, we have made tremendous strides and now have an African-American president. Therefore, when the media floods us with negative images and manipulated data remember the strength and fortitude of our ancestors. We are survivors! The same God who delivered our ancestors is with us today. He promises to never leave or forsake us which erases any fear of recession, wars, sickness, the devil or anything else (Hebrews 13:5,6). Remember God’s benefit plan for us as believers in Jesus includes healing, forgiveness redemption, renewed youth, loving-kindness and tender mercies (Psalm 103:1-5). Personally I remember the many addictions God delivered me from; the many brushes with the angel of death; the many family members saved in spite of themselves; the future God has promised me (Jeremiah 29:11). It's like the song says, "when I think of His goodness and all He's done for me my soul cries HALLELUJAH!
Forget the past – I know this sounds contradictory from the first step but we have to let go of old hurts, grudges and bitterness that keep us mired in a swampland of negativity. This world is full of hurt people and “hurt people hurt people.” Allow God to turn your scars into stars by remembering God uses our suffering – past and present - to forge character in us (1Peter 1:6, 7; Romans 8:29). Throw off that negative attitude and replace it with the garment of praise because God is working behind the scenes to turn the bad into good (Romans 8:28).
Offer the sacrifice of praise – someone said that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. In the time between now and Christmas develop the habit of thanking God for everything – even when life throws us curves and we can’t trace God in our situations. This becomes a matter of will over emotion. The Apostle Paul instructed the church at Thessalonica to rejoice always and to give God thanks in everything (1Thessalonians 5:16, 18) even if we are not feeling it! This is God’s will for our lives.
Follow these three simple steps and we will enjoy Thanksgiving every day.