Mindset of Thanksgiving

​Today is simply a day to give thanks. Who is it that we are to give thanks to? God. At the core of this tradition, this day was designed to give thanks to God for provision and protection. The people who first offered up this thanks were people who had endured much. They lost half of their friends and family they had traveled with. They lived in a strange and foreign land. They were battered by weather and completely reliant upon the grace of God to help them survive.
 
History retells the account of the first Thanksgiving, however, this was not the only day these early settlers gave thanks. Why? Because even after this bountiful first Thanksgiving, they still suffered from drought, sickness, and the deaths of loved ones throughout the year. One of the account writers of the first Thanksgiving, Edward Winslow, wrote this, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."*
 
I’ve never lived in a home where the thanks we gave on this holiday were not directed to God, but I often find myself wondering about the people who don’t believe in God who celebrate this holiday. They are thankful people giving thanks, but to whom?
 
The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, ”Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” And in Colossians 3:17 it says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
 
We make things much more complicated than they need to be sometimes. We kill ourselves to cook, bake, and prepare. We set our tables with the finest china and the shiniest silver. We fret over who sits next to whom so as to not cause strife at the table. Some of us even get really sad this time of year because we don’t have family or friends to spend this holiday with. And sometimes the whole day goes by, and among the hustle and bustle, we actually forget to give thanks, and it becomes just another day.
​Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I think I like it so much because it is a day where no one expects anything (it doesn’t even matter if the food tastes bad). There are no gifts expected or exchanged. It is a day to gather and reflect. And it is a day, among many throughout the year, to be thankful. Maybe this year hasn’t been the greatest year for you. Maybe you’ve lost a family member or friend far too soon. Maybe you’ve struggled financially. Maybe you’ve made some bad choices. Maybe you wished this year were totally different than it turned out to be. You know what? Today is still a day to be thankful because “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
 
Be thankful today for what you have because it is enough according to His will. Be thankful today for the breath in your lungs. Be thankful today for opportunities to make amends with loved ones (maybe even extend forgiveness in order to reconcile a relationship). Be thankful today for the life you will live today and for the eternal life you will have forever through your belief and trust in Jesus Christ (God loved us all so much that He sent His only Son as a sacrifice for all of our sins and that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16)).
 
Today is a day to celebrate thankfulness for Him and all He does for us, but don’t let it stop at today. Live in a mindset of thanksgiving because when we remember all the things we are thankful for, it’s hard to grumble and complain.
 
Happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you!
 

 
*Edward Winslow's account appears in: Heath, Dwight, A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth: Mourt's Relation (1963); EyeWitness to America (1997); Morrison, Samuel Eliot, Builders of the Bay Colony (1930).
 

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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