Tuesday, November 25, 2008

True Thanksgiving

As we approach the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving I have been reading William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation.” It is a book that I highly recommend as it sheds light on what is often only glossed over and worse yet revised by many. For many Thanksgiving is for fun, food and football but if you truly understand the mindset and worldview of the Pilgrims you would see that Thanksgiving is to be a religious observance to thank God for all he has and will provide.

It was in reading through a number of Puritan books this year and now reading Bradford’s book that the meaning of Thanksgiving Day truly comes to light. With Thanksgiving this week I preached at SGCF on Phil 4:4-13 this last Lord’s Day to look at what True Thanksgiving was. It was not just about the food the Pilgrims had or the crops they harvested it was about a recognition that no matter their stead God was still sovereign and had them where they were for His purposes. We must keep in mind this first gathering in early November of 1621 was after a tough year where the Pilgrims lost almost half of their group and the future was still troubling, at least from all outward appearances. But the Pilgrims had a firm grasp on God’s providence and while I am sure there was anxiety and some worry at times it was dealt with by a heavy dose of prayer and scripture. Thus they could be thankful as Paul was thankful, in whatever our circumstance.

In Phil 4:4-13 we see Paul being thankful for a gift from the Philippian church but not so much for the gift but for the thought and intent behind it. He wanted to make sure that the Philippians who would have the opportunity to face their own persecution did not see thankfulness as hinging on circumstances. No, they were to ground their thankfulness in the cross of Jesus Christ. The Pilgrims also grounded their thankfulness, no matter their circumstances, in Christ and Scripture.

Anxiety is one of those sins we all deal with but all too often neglect to see it as such. I think it is when we see anxiety as a lack of trust and thankfulness in the Lord that we can begin to be victorious in fighting it. In these questionable economic times if you are a child of God, one who is covered by the blood of Christ, you can be as thankful as the Pilgrims were no matter your situation. This is not an easy task but it is when we begin to see thankfulness as being more than simply gratitude for what we have and more about a deep understanding of God’s grace and providence then anxiety is able to be overcome.

I pray this Thanksgiving Day in the midst of your family celebrations that you would take a moment to be Truly Thankful for God no matter your circumstances.

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