A time to indulge. A time to reflect. A time to tally up all we have, all we’ve been given, all we’ve done.
And be grateful.
But this celebration of bounty and abundance is not just about looking back. As we come together with family and friends over roast turkey, mashed potatoes, and homemade pumpkin pie, we must look forward too.
To frigid mornings, freezing nights. Days where chill never leaves the air. Thanksgiving Day, you see, falls on the cusp of winter. It signals the end of harvest, the completion of a season of plenty. Like a traffic sign, it beckons to us, “Beware: Hazardous Road Conditions Just Around the Bend.”
When we consider this, when we think about our spiritual lives in light of what lies ahead as well as behind, then practicing a posture of thanksgiving takes on much more significance.
And it’s exactly what we need to be doing.
After all, we are prone to forget. Aren’t we? In the harshness, the bleakness, the darkness of a cold wintry soul season. In the drudgery, the isolation, the uncertainties that a difficult spiritual season can often bring. In these moments, we forget that God is with us. We forget God is faithful. We need to be reminded over and over of His goodness, His nearness, His love.
That’s what a thankful heart can do.
Because embedded within every word of thanksgiving, in every thought of appreciation, in every expression of gratitude is hope. The acknowledgement of a Higher Power at work. The recognition of the existence of grace and a greater awareness of indisputably resilient faith.
Every time we give thanks, when it’s a genuine overflow of praise and even when it’s a deliberate sacrifice devoid of emotion, gratitude has the ability to lighten our spirits, strengthen our weak knees and propel us one step closer to a spiritual spring. To a season of defrosting, renewal, replanting and growth.
That’s why we need Thanksgiving.
To indulge, yes.
To gorge ourselves on piping hot food and balmy conversation all while reflecting on the endless provision that pours from God’s warmhearted hands.
But also to remember.
To realize practicing thankfulness, practicing it now and practicing it often, can cultivate a discipline in us that will keep us spiritually sturdy, even through that long winter’s night.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)