by Dave Carter
30th November 2021
In recent years, we’ve taken to celebrating Thanksgiving. This is typically an American holiday, originally intended to thank God for safe arrival by ship across the Atlantic. In the USA it is a national holiday and a big occasion nationally, that doesn’t have the same significance this side of the pond. However, a few people in the UK are now starting to make it a part of their calendar.
The main benefits we’ve identified of doing this are:
- It’s an excuse for a big party with friends and lots of food
- It reminds us of the importance of thankfulness
Last year, in the midst of COVID lockdown, we were unable to have anyone in our house. We still did manage to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, through some very well co-ordinated delivery of food and the use of Zoom. It was a great time, but I’m so glad that this year we were able to be together in person. Much turkey was eaten, silly games were played, and we were all very thankful!
The bible talks about the importance of thanksgiving in several places. It’s identified as important for our spiritual health, part of our worship, and something we’re commanded to do. It’s more than just spiritual politeness, it’s truly significant. In fact, Paul cites a lack of thankfulness towards God as playing a key role in the sinful state of humanity and our separation from Him. (Romans 1 v 21). Lack of thankfulness leads to distancing ourselves, pride and bitterness.
On the plus side, embracing thankfulness is incredibly powerful and has huge benefits for us. An article published by Harvard Health earlier this year summarised some of the research that has been done on gratitude.1 People who were more thankful tended to experience greater happiness and feel more optimistic. Expressing gratitude in relationships led people to feel more positive about others, as well as feeling more able to raise concerns. Staff who are thanked by employees tend to be more productive.
If you’re tempted to worry, criticise or feel overly negative, thankfulness can be powerful. And it is not just for our own benefit, it blesses God. 2 Corinthians 4 v 15 describes thankfulness overflowing, to the glory of God.
As a practical step recently, I wrote down 20 things that I was grateful for. This ranged from things large in scope (eternal hope) through to smaller sources of joy (bacon). I found it incredibly helpful. You may want to do the same, or find other ways of incorporating thanksgiving into your life.
I leave with you with 1 Thessalonians 5 v 16 – 18:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.