“ I got what I wanted… I’m so thankful” I’ve said this often. What is really difficult to say, are these words, “I did not get what I wanted… I’m so thankful” Thankful for, thankful because, thankful to… which is it for us?
Giving thanks sounds easy enough, but is gratitude being replaced today with platitude? When I think about this Holiday’s name, the way to celebrate Thanksgiving seems straight forward: What could be simpler than counting your blessings and saying a prayer of thanks for them?
In today’s busy world the beauty and simplicity of the day have, for many, become complicated by a host of things that divert our attention from the Lord. Expressing thanks can become difficult when our mind is preoccupied with our own expectations or a loved one isn’t there to celebrate. Considering the strain of a heavily traveled day coupled with “jumping on the bandwagon” to do some early Christmas shopping, no wonder Thanksgiving Day has become a high stressed holiday.
This is the day where we should set aside a time to be Thankful. At times we are so caught up in other things or we complain about how things don’t go our way. However, regardless of our feelings, the Bible tells us to constantly give thanks to God. This is not always easy to do.
Perhaps the reasons we don’t get the principle of thanksgiving correct is that we tend to give thanks only for the things we feel thankful for or we speaks words of thanksgiving out of habit without being truly thankful. We then fall short of the goal that the Word of God lays out for us-to give thanks in everything. (1 Thess 5:18) or we behave religiously outwardly without being transformed on the inside.
Sometimes I am thankful for what I see God doing. I see ill people for whom I prayed being healed. I see new employment opportunites for my out-of-work friends, a child mastering a frustrating task, and family members reconciled. And I exclaim, “Look at what God has done!” and I am thankful.
Other times I’m thankful simply because I know God, even though I don’t always see answers coming the way I’d like to see them. I can still trust His leading, His promises, His assurances that give me a sense of peace and contentment. God is still there whether or not He respond to me in the way that I think He should. Trusting in Him makes me able to feel with certainty that God hears me and know my needs before I do.
But I am not just thankful for or thankful because. I am thankful to God for who He is. Thankful to God for being faithful and for being truth…. these give a depth to Thanksgiving that pulls me out of myself and gives me a bigger picture of the heart and the rule of God.
And that bigger picture helps me to be thankful for what God is doing not only in my personal life but what He is doing in our parish community. Together in Christ we are the children of God. Whether it is in coming to celebrate Sunday Mass together, when someone opens a door, says “Hello” or prayers for another parishioner need. I can be thankful for that welcoming “hello”, that silent prayer and that simple act of kindness. It is easy to feel thankful in our life when things look sunny. But Paul said, ‘In everything”
Due to our human nature it may be hard for us to give thanks for everything? We may ask ourselves, “How can I give thanks to God when my teenagers is rebelling, when I have a co-worker who undermines you, or when you feel that you are drowning in debt?” Looking to God we are given the grace to give thanks even in difficult circumstances. We know that our hardships are opportunities for reflecting God’s love and setting a model of humility and gratitude. Yet so many of us find it so easy to grumble over the inconveniences that fill our daily lives.
November is Thanksgiving time. At least that is what the national emphasis is in the United States. Are you thankful? Now? This minute? If not, are you looking at you or are you looking at God? Or are you simply too busy to take the time to be thankful all the time? Thanksgiving should not be just once a year. In the household of God it is always thanksgiving time.