Not everyone will have a happy Thanksgiving…especially this year. Many are out of work, have issues relating to health, children and family, finances, loss of a loved one with this being the first year without them, grief and other loss, divorce, separation, depression, not being able to go home, a family member broke the law, addictions, or any number of other things.
What happens to thanksgiving and praise when peace disintegrates into chaos, when a husband loses his job and finances are cut off, when a child is in a car wreck, when the repo man stands knocking at the door, when buying Christmas presents is a vague recollection, when pain strikes the chest and there is no insurance, when the roof overhead is in jeopardy of being taken away, when the cupboard holds no more than the cup?
I’ve been through all this. So, what happens to my praise and thanksgiving when my day is darkened with a multitude of problems that need to “take a ticket, take a seat,” and the songs of my heart begin to stick in my throat, do I still sing to Him anyway? You bet! When my eyes spill over with the tears of heartache, do I still look to Him and praise Him? Absolutely! When chaos invades my world, do I still claim His peace and praise Him? Yes, indeedy! For “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of His glories and grace.” (Ps. 34:1 TLB)
I have learned to transform my attitude into one of gratitude as Habakkuk had. In the closing words of his book, the prophet asserted his faith in God and promised to praise Him, even if all else failed, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. 3:17-18 NLT)
Paul’s statement is now mine, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want.” (Phil. 4:12 TLB) And this statement has taken up residence in my heart, “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18 TLB)
Are life’s fiery darts aimed at your life, attempting to puncture your heart? What seeps out of your heart?
Whatever is going on in your life, there is always room for thanksgiving! It is the sacrificial gift of your heart. What does it cost you?
A true, sacrificial gift costs you the surrender of your money, for you give sacrificially, as the widow who gave her two mites. It costs you the surrender of your time, for you sacrifice it to put God first. It costs you the surrender of your heart, for you sacrifice your love to those who hate you. It costs you the surrender of your lips, for you sacrifice your praise to God when all seems lost.
Though you may be going through some really rotten things right now, praise the Lord anyway. Praise and thanksgiving may not change your surroundings but it will change your attitude.
Thanksgiving is not a once-a-year, special holiday for being as overstuffed as the turkey. Thanksgiving is an eternal season of the heart, an overflow of the heart’s gratitude for all that God has done and is going to do and for everything one possesses, no matter how much or how little that may be.
Will you have Habakkuk’s attitude this Thanksgiving season? Don’t let Thanksgiving get stuck in your throat!
May the Lord touch you in a special way this Thanksgiving. May it become an eternal season in your heart.