Thanksgiving is one holiday I look forward to every year. An attitude of gratitude makes a tremendous difference in a person's life. We all know how to complain to God, but the best side of our nature is the one that says, “ God, thank you for your blessings. Thank you for this good land. Thank you for food on our table. Thank you for this dear friend. Thanks you for the Christian faith.” Yes, an attitude of gratitude makes a difference.
An ancient proverb says, “A gift unacknowledged is a gift unreceived.” And that is true. If you send a graduation gift to a high school senior, if you send someone a birthday card or a thoughtful note, sometimes you never know for certain whether the person got it or even cared about it if he or she never mentions it.
In a similar way, we receive many blessings from God, and we need to thank him, to acknowledge those gifts. There can be no doubt that being aware of those blessings and thanking God for them makes us better, happier people. A life that does not have the dimensions of gratitude is a life not being lived to the fullest. It is life in a narrow dimension.
We live with its problems, and if we aren't careful, we can get to the point where the problems are all we see. But the Christian faith and particularly thanksgiving to God, helps us to see life in a fuller dimension. Consider for example, Acts 16:16-26. Paul and Silas have been put in jail in their city of Philippi because their preaching of the gospel was interfering with the income of some unscrupulous men, who owned and abused a slave girl who told fortunes in the market place.
Paul and Silas had gone to the rescue of this girl, and her owners were furious because their source of income was gone. And so at the urging of these men, Paul and Silas were arrested. They were not just put in prison; they were put in the inner prison. As we would say today, they weren't just put in jail, they were put under the jail. On top of this, their feet were put in stockades.
But now notice what Paul and Silas did while they were in prison. What would your attitude be? Most of us would probably be resentful. Here we are just trying to serve God and help this poor girl, and the next thing they know they are beaten and put in a dark and dirty jail. That's the way we might feel about the situation, but how did Paul and Silas react? Well, the scripture says that at midnight they sang praises to God.
They broke out of life in the narrow dimension of their problems and saw it in a larger dimension. They saw that God was still there and there were still things to be thankful for. That is the marvelous secret of Christianity.
In our lives, the worst may have happened. Maybe you've lost a dear loved one, maybe you've lost your job, maybe there have been marital problems or problems with the children. God doesn’t expect us to be thankful for those things. But even in those things, we can be thankful on the strength of Christ. We can be thankful that as we work with God, good things can come out of God. We have only to look at Good Friday to see that is true. In that spirit I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.