Month after month, we have heard the daily news reports affirming the weakness and instability of our economy. Many have lost life savings in the stock market; the government continues to bailout banks; and automotive giants hover on the brink of bankruptcy. Now as we head into the holiday season, many ask the questions, “Will this be a happy thanksgiving and a merry Christmas?”
As Christians, our joy should not be dependent on our possessions or circumstances. Our joy is found in Jesus Christ! May I suggest a few ways to cultivate a grateful spirit during this holiday season.
1. Meditate on the goodness of God.
Our God is a good God! In the busyness of this Thanksgiving season, take time to reflect on God’s goodness in your own life. Consider His gift of salvation and His plan for your life. Psalm 107:1 says, “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
2. Thank God for the gift of health.
As I write this post, I have just returned from visiting one of our faithful members who has just been hospitalized. In fact, for many years our family has made it a tradition to deliver pies to church members who are hospitalized during the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a way to remember and be thankful for the good health God has given to us. When my wife and I began this tradition years ago, we could always see a noticeable difference in our children’s attitudes and demeanor after we left the hospital. So many problems in our lives suddenly seem insignificant when you consider those who have spent their day in a hospital bed.
3. Thank God for your children.
Having two of my own children now married and one more getting married in December, it is tough to find time in everyone’s schedule to get together. This Thanksgiving will be the first Thanksgiving in three years when all of our four children and their spouses will be together. We are greatly looking forward to spending time with them. These are cherished times for my wife and me. Thank God for your children.
4. Don’t compare yourself with others.
Second Corinthians 10:12 teaches us that it is unwise to compare ourselves with one another. Don’t get caught in the trap of envying another persons’ possessions, ability, or opportunities. This will only result in bitterness in your own life.
5. Look back to who you were.
Every Sunday as I look out across the our congregation, I see families that apart from the grace of God, wouldn’t be a family today. I see men and women who have had their lives transformed by God and now have a new direction and purpose. When all is said and done, I am just a sinner saved by grace! From where has the Lord brought you since your salvation? Take time to thank Him for making you a new creature.
6. Rejoice when others are blessed.
It is a biblical principle to rejoice with those who rejoice. I have found that oftentimes we don’t know the full story. We can see how people are blessed, but we don’t always know how they have sacrificed. Usually those who are blessed financially have put to practice good biblical stewardship. Rejoice when others are blessed, and you’ll get a blessing out of that!
7. Avoid the “God owes me” mentality.
I have met people who believe that because they tithed for two years and still lost their house, God now owes them. This is a dangerous place to be! If this is your mindset, then you have just promoted yourself above God’s plan and purpose for your life. We deserve nothing but an eternity in Hell apart from God. God owes us nothing, but rather we owe God everything! Paul said it this way, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”