Cultivating a Heart of Thanksgiving -- Dr. Robert Richardson
As we first approach Thanksgiving, perhaps we tend to think of the holiday as a long, four-day respite from the rigors of work. And then comes the realization that “Black Friday” is one of those four days.
Added to this may be our pronounced strategies that this year Thanksgiving will serve as a benchmark for a major assault on Christmas shopping. Also included may be initial plans for putting up Christmas decorations.
As Thanksgiving Day grows closer, our thoughts seem to turn more toward family. Even then, the hustle and bustle of time, calendar, cooking, travel, lodging, meals, clothes, suitcases, and arranging to visit family tends to be very challenging, sometimes chaotic.
Frequently lost in these multiple and conflicting distractions is the basic purpose for the Thanksgiving holiday - a time to pause and give thanks. However, a genuine heart of thanksgiving is frequently born out of very difficult and trying experiences.
Jesus was approaching a city on one of his trips from Galilee to Jerusalem. Ten lepers, who had been banned from living in the city because of their disease, called out to Jesus for mercy and healing.
Luke reports that Jesus instructed them to go show themselves to the priests. He writes that once they started out to find the priests, they were healed.
While nine rushed ahead, one of the lepers first sought out Jesus to offer thanks. It was one leper’s realization and admission of how terrible the disease was. Even more dreadful was his banishment by family and friends. Thus, he could not continue with the others until he offered thanks to Jesus.
Thanksgiving is not just offering a blessing over a holiday meal. It is gratitude for life and the opportunity to live it in spite of its perils.
It is expressing appreciation for those who are family even in the midst of “never-budging” discussions about politics, religion and social issues.
It is telling those who have greatly influenced your life how much you appreciate them even though a part of your world may seem to be falling apart.
And even more, Thanksgiving is looking for the good in those who are marginalized because of their careless and thoughtless decisions.
It is searching for the positive in those who seem to dwell on the negative.
It is hunting for a kind word to pass along to those who trend toward thoughtlessness and rudeness.
As hard as it seems, perhaps we need to give thanks for those difficult and trying times that helped mold in us a thankful heart.
May your Thanksgiving week be a meaningful and fulfilling experience!