Take Time to Give Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches, where are your thoughts? We may be focused on many different things—food, family, football, Friday deals—but what about our Father? As a society, we take the 4th Thursday in November off but seem to forget the cause; as Christians, we ought to lead the way in giving thanks to God!

On November 1st, mysteriously, overnight, the distinctive oranges, yellows, and browns of the “fall” candy on the shelves of the local supermarket have been replaced with the telltale reds and greens, silver, and gold that signal the start of the Christmas shopping season. Santa and his elves, reindeer, sleighs, and snowmen are piping through the store’s sound system even though we’re still in short sleeves and the trees have yet to drop their leaves. Didn’t we skip something?

Perhaps it’s understandable—after all, there’s no money to be made from marketing contentment, from being satisfied with what we already have. But the Bible tells believers—actually, commands us—“Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:18). The world is trending in a certain direction—the apostle Paul, itemizing the characteristics of men in the last days of this age, includes “ungrateful” in the list (2 Tim. 3:2). As Christians, we are exhorted to stand against this trend: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).

We don’t have to conform to the pattern of our thankless, griping, dissatisfied modern society. We can receive the biblical injunction to give thanks regardless of our situations. Perhaps our circumstances aren’t ideal, but with a little thought, a little strength of will, we can find something to be grateful for.

*Watchman Nee writes: “You may be sick, but you are still alive. You may be poor, but you are not destitute. You may have coarse clothing, but you still have something to put on. Your house may be small, but you still have a place to lay your head. You should learn to seek for opportunities to thank God.” This Thanksgiving, you don’t have to seek for the opportunity—it’s here. Take it!

Secular studies have linked gratefulness to a plethora of benefits—lower stress levels, better sleep, better mental and physical health, and even improved immune function. As believers, we shouldn’t need the help of modern science to discover what the Bible told us centuries ago: When we give our cares—accompanied by our thanks—to God in prayer, we are delivered from anxiety. Then the peace of God, which is beyond man’s understanding, stands guard over our hearts and thoughts (Phil. 4:6-7). What a blessing!

*(The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, v. 18, p. 261. Watchman Nee spent the last twenty years of his life imprisoned for his faith in communist China. In a letter written about a month before he died, he wrote, “I maintain my joy, so please do not worry.” This indicates that he practiced what he preached, rejoicing in the Lord despite his situation (Phil. 4:4). He did not have the freedom to mention the Lord in his letters. On the day he died, he left a note with the following testimony: “Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ.”)