For many, COVID-19 is challenging our ability to be thankful. We have been in a two-year health crisis, battling so much loss, suffering, and separation from friends and family. Nearly 1 in 7 of us have contracted the virus or ~ 50 million people in America.
Every aspect of our society has been affected. The virus has impacted our commerce, leisure, relationships, education, and politics and has disconnected us because of COVID-19. The result has led to relational fractures, controversies, and great fear in our nation. The challenge for us, believers in Jesus, is to become THANKSGIVERS despite the traumatic moments of tribulations, tragedies, and other moments of suffering, either personal or collective.
It is noteworthy that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated after a harsh winter that killed many of the pilgrims; it became a national holiday during the Civil War’s pain and loss. It was put on the calendar in the middle of the Depression Era. Is there a significance to this? Yes!
God’s Word instructs us to be thankful! Psalm 92:1-2 says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.”
This Thanksgiving, we ought to lift our eyes towards Heaven and thank Him for His Word given to us, for His character, for His love, grace, and mercy. For the gift and power of His Holy Spirit. We adore our God simply for who He is. His glory is the excellence, beauty, majesty, power, and perfection of His total being. The completeness, wholeness, and the righteousness of God; the absolute, majestic power that He pours over humankind.
In John 9:1-3, there was a blind man born in that condition. The disciples come to Jesus and ask Him, “Who is to be blamed—this man or his parents?” Jesus says, “Neither. This is for the glory of God.” Is it possible that the glory of God can give our pain purpose? Yes!
When Lazarus dies suddenly (John 11), and the disciples are grieved and embarrassed over not having been there before his death, they are troubled in their souls. Jesus calms them and says, “this death is for the glory of God.” Is it possible that his death is for the glory of God? Yes!
This Thanksgiving is our opportunity to pull ourselves away from the fear, pain, confusion of the pandemic, economy, politics, and filling up our stomachs. Is it possible to focus on God’s Glory? Yes!
Being thankful is a healthy attitude for us humans. Thankfulness doesn’t just make you feel like a better person; gratitude helps us become better people. It’s good for our total health. Researcher Robert A. Emmons (professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis) wrote: “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
One recent study from the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine found that grateful people had better heart health, specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms. They showed better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue, and they slept better. Gratitude has the opposite effect of stress.
Another study found that gratitude can boost your immune system. Stressed-out law students who characterized themselves as optimistic had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies. Stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in thankful people. And in another study, people who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary fat intake—as much as 25 percent lower. We like to eat fatty foods when we are stressed out. And having a daily “gratitude discipline” reduces the effects of aging on the brain.
Be thankful, stay healthy, lose weight, reduce stress and inflammation, get better sleep and be happier by having an attitude of thankfulness!
A. W. Tozer wrote, “When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity, and the name of God be glorified in her again of old.” What can we do to bring back that glory of God? It is simple, reconnect yourself with God.
As your pastor, as your friend, I challenge you: Reconnect yourself with the Lord and Savior, Jesus. Reconnect your children with our Lord. Reconnect with the amazing Glory of our God in worship and His Word. He is deserving of ALL our thanks. Our God didn’t change His character when we inflicted our lives with sin. The Lord didn’t walk away from us when we were overwhelmed with disappointment, and He doesn’t leave us or forsake us in life or death because of His love, commitment, and Glory.
Psalm 138:6 says, “Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, keeping his distance from the proud.” Our God, who is to be praised, adored, and glorified, is in touch with us. He comes to us, and He hugs us. He pulls us in close, and He comforts us though we may feel lonely, depressed, and anxious. He wraps His arms around us. He loves us!
Psalm 138:7, “Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.”
I am so thankful for each one of you. The Lord has blessed us with each other. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, is so good, so very good! Be thankful!
Blessed Thanksgiving to you, Thanksgivers!
With love and thankfulness to you,