Editor’s note: We here at CTA are thankful for YOU! As you and those you love celebrate Thanksgiving this week, may our Lord Jesus give you an increasing awareness of his love for you and an ever deepening thankfulness for that love.
“Eww…I hate green bean casserole!”
“Cranberry sauce makes me nauseous.”
“The only thing I want to eat here is the pumpkin pie.”
At that very first Thanksgiving feast could the youngest of the pilgrims have voiced complaints like those of our own children? Perhaps. Few of us would be surprised if we were to learn that since the beginning of recorded history, children have been bemoaning green bean casserole and subtly sneaking extra slices of pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving is a great time to teach children about receiving God’s gifts with thankful hearts. At this annual feast, little ones can learn that the bounties of this meal – even those less than desirable dishes – all come to us as gifts from God.
For as long as this holiday has been celebrated, adults have tried to teach children that everything God sends our way is intended by him for our good. The fun times and the challenging ones, the pumpkin pie and the green bean casserole, all alike should all be received with a grateful heart.
We adults sometimes need to be reminded of that truth, too.
Getting to the Heart
Some days, a grateful heart comes easily. God has clearly given us many blessings. The birth of a child or grandchild is a life-changing event, a gift from the Lord. Finally getting that long-awaited promotion validates years of hard work. Taking the trip of a lifetime is a blessed opportunity. Sweeter than pumpkin pie, these blessings bring great joy. We give thanks unto the Lord from hearts overflowing with thanksgiving.
Other days, mustering up a thankful attitude isn’t so easy. Countless frustrations make God’s good gifts seem few and far between. Praising the Lord for a job in which you feel over-qualified and under-appreciated is no easy task. Finding joy in the midst of cooking dinner and cleaning dishes again and again and again and again and again can be difficult. Giving thanks with a grateful heart, while standing knee-deep in dirty diapers, may seem impossible. As sour as cranberry sauce, these circumstances can leave us wondering why God’s hand of blessing remains so distant.
Yet even in these daily frustrations we can discern genuine reasons for thankfulness. Psalm 106:1 serves as a reminder. (Read it.) God is always good, and he always gives good gifts to his people. Even those days that are populated with abundant annoyances are also filled with divinely delivered gifts.
Daily bread, shelter, and clothing are just the beginning of the many blessings God gives. Most important, he gives us himself and a relationship with himself. Despite our many sins, he has chosen to make that relationship possible through the cross and empty tomb of his Son, Jesus. Though we have at times grumbled and complained, though we often take his love for granted, though we fail to thank him and praise him, still he goes right on loving, forgiving, and blessing us.
In addition, our Lord uses our daily work to help sustain all of his creation. God himself uses you to do great good for those around you! Our lives are rich and meaningful as a result. We need only open our eyes to see it.
Filling out an expense report at work is an opportunity to uphold godly righteousness in the workplace. Each time you change a diaper or feed the baby, it’s a reminder that God has entrusted you with the care of one of his own dear children. In ways big and small, ordinary and extraordinary, God is always giving you opportunities to do good to others.
These gifts and opportunities do not randomly come and go; God’s mercy is not here today and then gone tomorrow. Instead, God’s mercy endures forever. In Christ Jesus, you are a new creation. In Christ Jesus, eternal life is yours today, tomorrow, and on into eternity.
Christ’s resurrection is the one great gift that gives all of God’s other gifts purpose and meaning. Without Jesus, all the blessings in the world would be nothing more than a momentary diversion from the inevitable consequences of sin. But with Jesus, God’s blessings take on an entirely new purpose and meaning. In Christ, the temporary joys of this world point us to the eternal joy we have in him. Through the eyes of faith, we recognize God’s blessings right now as a foretaste of the bliss that will be ours in the world to come.
Taking it Home
This year as in years past, families and friends will gather to celebrate our national day of Thanksgiving. This year as in years past, at least some of the children will complain about having to finish their green beans before they can dig into their pumpkin pie. And this year as in years past, one slice of pie will likely not be enough.
But this year, I encourage you to try something different. As the children anxiously await dessert, use that time to share a word about the hope that we have in Christ. Remind one another that as good as dessert time may be, it is nothing compared to the eternal joy God has in store for his people. One day soon, we will step from time into eternity. We will forever give thanks with a grateful heart for life everlasting with Jesus because of Jesus. That day will be even sweeter than pumpkin pie!
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