We are now entering the holiday season, which traditionally kicks off when we celebrate Thanksgiving. I feel we should remind ourselves of the importance of this time of giving thanks. Living in the United States is one of the most blessed opportunities anyone can experience. As we observe and enjoy the benefits of this great nation, we can only say thanks to the one who provides us with such bountiful blessings.
Our country may not be totally perfect. I’m sure if you speak to some people, they will always have a complaint or find fault with our nation. But thank God for the liberty and peace we find on these shores. This is why we should “Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” — I Chronicles 16:34.
As a pastor, one of the liberties dear to my own heart is our freedom to worship. It causes me to pause and reflect on what it would be like if I weren’t able to serve and worship God without fear of retribution, which is the case in other nations. We are truly blessed to have this freedom and, during this holiday season, I encourage everyone to exercise that freedom to the best of their ability.
Many people may say they don’t have anything to be thankful for. Given the rampant layoffs, inflation, economic downturns, sickness and death, it would be easy to look at all of the bad things in our lives and feel sorry or pitiful. However, we must realize that as bad as it may be, it could have been worse. So as we reflect, let’s give thanks for all we have. As the word of the Lord says in Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you have life, give thanks. If you have friends and family, give thanks. If you are able to worship God freely, give thanks. If you have clothes, food, shelter, love from someone and are able to love someone, give thanks. Just know that no matter what state your life is in, giving thanks is an appropriate response. And to those of you who have been blessed with all of the benefits that life can afford you, consider being a blessing to others who don’t have what they need. Look for opportunities to show love, kindness and compassion to the less fortunate.
If we take the word Thanksgiving and separate it, it will show us that we have a double responsibility — first, to be thankful and, second, to give. We should be thankful to God, and then give to others.
So as you gather with family and friends or maybe just yourself, please take a moment to reflect on your life and be thankful. It is with a grateful heart that we extend to the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad the thanks for their sacrifices that have secured the liberty and freedom we enjoy each day. God has not forgotten you, neither has this great nation.
Finally, remember that the holiday season is heavily commercialized and the real substance and purpose is often hidden. I will leave you with these word of encouragement from I Thessalonians 5:18: “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
May you and your family be blessed and may the grace of God be with you during this time of Thanksgiving. Appreciate all that God has done for you and enjoy the opportunities to show love to those who are dear to your heart. If you do this, I guarantee your holidays will have purpose and be filled with peace and joy.
Jones is the pastor and presiding prelate of Mt. Carmel Worship Centers Higher Dimensions Christian Fellowship, Inc. He is also a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.