We will not be without reminders to be thankful this holiday season. I’m not saying that we will be any more thankful, however. It seems our schedules between now and Christmas have become so laughably chaotic, that we know it’s not healthy. So, as a balm for our wounds (when we have a moment to breathe) we will get on Facebook or Instagram and come across a friend’s post – who is living another chaotic life – of an obligatory reminder to be thankful. It will most likely be a graphic of a table full of people with smiles on their faces, or a beautiful picture of a waterfall with a quote superimposed on top of it reading something like, “Don’t take anything for granted. Be thankful for everything.” This is a nice sentiment and it will make us feel good for a second, but it really doesn’t solve the problem.
I think the idea of true thankfulness has been drowned out in the noise of Thanksgiving dinners, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and everything else we have to do between now and Christmas. We might think, “On top of everything else I have to do today, I have to be thankful as well?! I just can’t do it!” And you’re right, you can’t.
We can’t keep running at the pace we are running and be thankful at the same time. It’s just not possible. Something has to give. That is the point of thankfulness. Thankfulness is not an additive to make everything you are already doing seem better or more fulfilling. Thankfulness is something that reorders our lives to give us the perspective of the thing that really matters.
Let me explain. Every Sunday at Acts 2 we have Communion during worship. During Communion, we remember that God loved us so much that He gave his Son, Jesus Christ, for us and we give thanks. There is a lot to this thing, but the shortened version is we remember and give thanks. In fact, another word for Communion is “Eucharist,” which in Greek means “thanksgiving”! We believe that this holy thanksgiving is a sacred moment. We believe that through the Eucharist, people have the ability to come into contact with Christ himself. When we do that, we are changed in a very significant way. In other words, God changes our lives when we give thanks!
This giving thanks thing is not just a “once on Sunday” kind of thing. Again, it’s something that reorders our lives. When we understand that everything we have was at the expense of Christ, we start to appreciate it more. When we start to appreciate what we have more, we learn what others do not have. When we learn what others do not have, we start to give out of our abundance. All of this is because we gave thanks to God who gave everything to us in the first place!
So give thanks for everything. When you have a moment to breathe between meetings and recitals, give thanks. When you have a chance to sit down to dinner as a family, give thanks. When you laugh with a friend until your side hurts, give thanks. In everything you do between now and Christmas and for the rest of our lives, give thanks to the one who creates, redeems, and sustains us. Because true thankfulness is not an additive. True thankfulness is an appreciation of the God who created us and loved us so much that He chose to give everything we have at his own expense. So give thanks because it can change your life.