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2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place.
November 22, 2020
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays- the other is Christmas. I love Thanksgiving for a number of reasons. For one Thanksgiving was one of my mother’s favorite holidays and she always celebrated it in grand style. She would start cooking days before and the house would smell of her famous delicious dressing- she made the best dressing, turkey, ham, potato salad, yams, greens, macaroni and cheese, all kind of cakes, banana, orange, yellow, white, chocolate, peach cobbler and more. On Thanksgiving Day, I can we truly had a feast.
I also love Thanksgiving because my mother had a family tradition to put the Christmas tree up and decorate it after Thanksgiving dinner. This tradition made Thanksgiving Day seamlessly run into Christmas for me. It was like combining my two favorite holidays together in one.
But the main thing that I’ve come to love about Thanksgiving is the universal special time of giving thanks to our all giving Father for His many undeserved blessings. It’s the one day where the United States and some other parts of the world comes together to give thanks. And although not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving Day as a day to give thanks to the Almighty Beneficent God, that is the origin of Thanksgiving Day.
However, although I do love celebrating Thanksgiving Day and all if stands for, I recognize that gratitude to God should not be reserved for just one day. Gratitude is an attitude, it's a lifestyle, that should be observed everyday of one’s life. It is this lifestyle that I seek to grow in every day and I thank God for the many opportunities that I have to do so with the gift of each new day.
One of the things that I am continually working on is giving God thanks-first- in, for, and through all things. This is something that I am committed to with all of my heart, even though there are times when faced with an unexpected situation, I have fallen short to meet God’s expectations in this area. When this happens, I see how anything other than my initial action of gratitude sets in motion a cascade of negative emotions, feelings, and responses. On the other hand, when I thank God first no matter the situation, although the situation may be very tense and potentially stressful, or the pain deeper than deep, the cascade of emotions and feelings are headed in a different direction and I could feel God’s presence in complete control during those times. I could feel His peace within me and all around me and I had reassurance in the midst of the storm.
I have found it easier to be consistent in giving God thanks first, regardless of the situation, if I stay in a state of thankfulness. That way when something unexpected happens, especially something adverse, I don’t have to spend energy trying to get to that place of thankfulness. It’s like looking for something when you’re frazzled, only to find out when you’ve calmed down that it was practically right in front of you all along.
This thanksgiving many people will wake up on Thanksgiving Day and find it very hard to find that place of thankfulness. They have lost loved ones to COVID, cancer, car accidents, heart attacks, even to police brutality. They have experienced other kinds of death through divorce, and familial ties that have been severed, and they have even had a piece of themselves die in the process of their loss. Still other people will wake up feeling strange with the new norm and loss of social freedom in not being able to be with loved ones in this much desperately needed time of unity. Yes, many people will wake up on this Thanksgiving Day just trying to get through their pain.
The first thanksgiving after I lost my Mom was the saddest Thanksgiving of my life. At least it started out that way. I remember waking up from what little sleep I had feeling like I was in the Twilight Zone- watching my life from where I was sitting, and yet from afar. I remember being in the presence of my family, but yet feeling completely isolated from the loneliness and despair that I was feeling. I wondered if anyone knew that I was sitting right there and yet gone at the same time.
I wished for something that I knew was not going to happen because it hadn’t happened yet in the three months since my Mom had passed. I wished she were there, sitting in the chair at the table next to me. I wanted to see her smile, hear her laugh, hear her undeniable strong, yet loving voice- not in my head, but for real-in person.
I was so caught up in my misery and pain that I forgot to give it all to God and thank Him first. I just wanted the pain to leave, if only for a minute so that I could at least enjoy the holiday that she and I loved so much. I shifted my focus and with tears flowing, I began to thank God, for my beautiful Mom and the 46 amazing years that He let me spend with her on this earth. I began to reflect, very painfully at first on all of the wonderful, blissful Thanksgivings that God let me have with her. And then my senses began to open up in another way, and it was as if I could smell her Thanksgiving Day cooking, cinnamon apples and all. I could see the decorations that she had up and the fun times we had.
Soon, in the midst of one of my memories, a smile replaced my tears. Gratitude overshadowed the pain. Peace replaced the turmoil and the day took on new meaning. I was able to triumph through the pain and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my family, along with the sacred place I had reserved for my Mom at the table.
Nowadays, I try as best as I can to stay in a place of gratitude. With all of the distractions, I have even set an alarm on my phone to go off throughout the day to thank God. I quote scriptures throughout the day on being thankful and I just say Thank You God randomly, but intentionally, to help me stay in a place of gratitude. Still, I feel that I should and could be doing more to stay in that place of gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I ask that you join me in maintaining an attitude of gratitude by doing three things this week:
One- make a commitment to start this week off and every day for the rest of this week, if you don’t already, with an attitude of gratitude by giving God thanks first in all things. Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Whatever comes up that is challenging or distressing, Thank God first. For example, you can say Thank You God for Your power over this situation.
Two-Randomly, throughout the day give God thanks. I’ve found when I do this, I have more peace when I come to a rough spot. I handle the situation with less stress and with more clarity. You may want to set an alarm or just remember on Your own or even do both. Psalms 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the Most High:
Three- If you know someone who has lost a loved one this Thanksgiving, including their animal family members, reach out to them, preferably by phone, and just see how they’re doing. The first holidays after the death of a loved one can be the most painful and difficult to get through. You never how you can lift someone out of the deep hole of depression with a thoughtful gesture of just checking on them and just to let them know you’re thinking of them. If you don’t know anyone personally, then send loving thoughts of God’s peace and comfort to those you’ve heard of through the news or media, or heard of through someone else, like a coworker. Galatians 6:2
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Whatever your loss or situation this Thanksgiving, whatever you’re feeling, it’s understandable, -know that you are not alone. But rest assured that with the Lord’s help, you will triumph victoriously through it all in the mighty name of Jesus. So, make a commitment to embrace an attitude of gratitude today, this week, and everyday thereafter. 2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place.
Dear Father God,
Thank You Lord for this special time to reflect on Your goodness and give You thanks for all of Your many miraculous, wonderful blessings that You have so undeservedly and so graciously bestowed upon us. Lord, man was created to give You praise and with my whole heart I thank You today and every day for being God who deserves all the praise, glory, and honor. Lord, there are many people going into this week with pain too deep for words. There is an abundance of loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear, sadness, and grief. Lord, there are many people who just feel lost. I pray that You would surround them with Your loving hands of comfort and peace as only You can do. I pray that You would give them Your strength, Your mercy, grace, and love and touch their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls with Your divine healing hands. And with the many situations that we are all facing during these times, I humbly ask that You help me to be ever mindful to give You thanks -first- in every situation that I face for I know it is then that I will triumph victoriously through every situation.
In the Most High name of Jesus I pray,
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