No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)
Friend to Friend
The fourth-grader rose from his desk and walked slowly to the front of the classroom to deliver a report concerning the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. With Thanksgiving just days away, the classroom was buzzing with excitement. The teacher shared the eagerness of her students and felt that she had done an adequate job of encouraging each child to focus on the true meaning of the holiday. Those hopes were soundly dashed against the words of the young speaker.
“The pilgrims came here seeking freedom of…you know what. When they landed, they gave thanks to…you know who. Because of these brave people, we can celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and our freedom to worship every Sunday…you know where.”
We laugh at the thought of leaving God’s name out of this childish writing but, in fact, many of us are just as guilty of leaving Him out of our daily walk – especially when it comes to giving thanks. While Thanksgiving does remind us to stop and give thanks, Thanksgiving is not just a national holiday to be celebrated for a few hours each November. Learning to live in the gear of perpetual thanksgiving is a life changing discipline. Giving thanks should be a natural characteristic and innate practice of every believer. It is thanking God for all that He has done as well as for all He is presently doing and going to do in the future. Thanksgiving heightens our awareness of His presence and thrives on an active, living faith – a faith that is not ashamed to boldly act or afraid to speak out even in the face of doubt.
The book of James tells us that “When you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the sin.” (NLT)
Learning to be thankful – even when we cannot see, hear or understand what He is doing or how He is working - is authentic thanksgiving and the direct result of a living, active and personal faith in God. We often say that we need more faith in order to be more thankful. I don’t think so! We operate in faith every single day. We flip a switch believing in faith that light will appear. We turn a key believing in faith that a car will start. We even go to a doctor we hardly know who scribbles an impossible to read prescription which we promptly take to a pharmacist we have never seen. This unknown druggist proceeds to fill the prescription, giving us a medicine we cannot pronounce. And we take it – all in blind faith! Amazing!
I believe that instead of pleading for more faith, we need to exercise the faith we already possess. As we continually step out in faith, not only will that faith grow stronger, but we will begin to trust God more, naturally developing an attitude of thanks. Faith does not believe that God can or will act. Faith believes that God is answering as we pray. And that truth, my friend, will send us to our knees in praise and thanksgiving.
Don’t leave God out of your Thanksgiving celebration. Instead, realize that He is the very reason you can experience abundant and eternal life. Do not let the day pass without finding a few moments to be alone, thanking Him for His magnificent bounty in our hearts and in our lives.
Father, my faith seems so small and weak. I have allowed fear to invade my heart and mind. Right now, I choose against that fear and step out in faith, thanking You for what You have done in my life and for what you are going to do today. Make me aware of Your presence today and give me the courage to share with others what You have done for me. Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Examine your life for evidences of faith at work. What one area of your life needs faith – today?
How does Hebrews 11 define faith?
What are the rewards of faith?
After reading James 2: 14-26 what is the relationship between faith and works?
Does your life illustrate these words about faith?
What is the importance of thanksgiving as it relates to faith?
For more on today’s topic, see Love That Never Fails, a CD by Mary.
Girlfriends in God, Inc.
Originally published Thursday, 23 November 2006.