As I am sure that you are well aware Thanksgiving is less than a week away! There are a number of “thanksgiving” related items on my mind this week. I am thankful for safe travels to and from Japan and for a stirring time of Gospel encouragement and Gospel usefulness. I was told to be sure and relay thanks to you, Christ Church, for sending me to Japan and allowing yourselves to be represented there to those contending for the faith in Japan. I am thankful too to have been reminded of Christ Church’s past connections to Japan through the Young family and how those connections are bearing fruit today.
But being a thankful person is not always easy. Author Nancy Leigh De Moss puts it this way:
In the midst of widespread home foreclosures, high unemployment, soaring national debt, and shrunken retirement accounts here in America, along with unending news of global unrest, starvation, and disease, it has become increasingly natural for people to become discouraged, even to feel at times, as though God has abandoned this world. For those who love and follow Christ, the rising tide of secularism and moral relativism provides all the more temptation to become despondent.
It may be an understatement to say that thankfulness does not come naturally. That is why thankfulness, or gratitude, must be cultivated. De Moss goes on to say, “I am convinced that we must cultivate the grace and spiritual discipline of gratitude if we are to avoid losing our footings in these days. An important key to not becoming overwhelmed by what is going on around us is looking for evidence of God’s hand at work in the midst of the turmoil and being “simply overwhelmed with thankfulness to him.” Another theologian Alexander MacLaren echoes a similar sentiment in saying, “Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.”
These words of MacLaren really hold the key. It is recognizing the kindnesses of God that elicit a thankful lifestyle. For those who find it difficult to see these kindnesses, perhaps a start at the very beginning is what is needed. What do I mean by that? These words from Oswald Chambers pretty much sum it up, “The thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin.” Grasping this mind-boggling truth can set us free for a life of thankfulness even in the midst of a messed-up world.
And frankly, thankful people are what the world needs. Nothing buoys the spirit of the despondent more than to encounter someone who is truly thankful. Again De Moss, “Thankful people are refreshing, life-giving springs, while unthankful people pull others down with them into stagnant pools of their selfish, demanding, unhappy ways.”