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Count Your Blessings: Five Thoughts About Thanksgiving 

November 23, 2023

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Especially in times of turmoil it is necessary to reach out and grasp our faith in God, to count our blessings, and to give Him thanks for what He has given us.  

Our world is in turmoil.  Read the news on any given day, and it is rare to find something inspiring.  In April, 2023, the Pew Research Center published the results of a survey which revealed that 2⁄3 of the American public are pessimistic about the future in every category (economy, security, unity, etc.).  Notice, that was before the current conflict in Israel and the accompanying civil unrest we are experiencing now. 

Turning from the news headlines, we look at our calendars.  In just a couple short weeks, the United States will be celebrating our national holiday of Thanksgiving.  

A juxtaposition! It seems unimaginable that we would be asked to carve out a day to be thankful for things when everything around us seems to be falling apart. 

Perhaps, then, it is time to stop, take a deep breath, look backwards, and regain some perspective… 

It was the autumn of 1864.  The United States was engulfed in its Civil War, the bloody conflict that would claim the lives of over 600,000 people.  Neighbors took up arms against neighbors, and, sometimes, even family members against family members.  It was a dark time for our country, arguably among the darkest days we have ever experienced.

President Abraham Lincoln bore the burden of the war on his soul daily.  In the midst of his inner turmoil, he reached out and took hold of his Judeo-Christian faith, a faith that told him that God was still good and worthy of our thanksgiving for His many blessings – even (especially!) those that are easily hidden by the fog of war.  

Thus, on October 20 of that year, President Lincoln penned the following proclamation

“Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.” 

Aspiring to develop a grateful heart even when our circumstances look bleak is an important part of that Judeo-Christian faith heritage that built and sustained our nation.  So, in the midst of our current circumstances, perhaps it is a good thing for us to dig deep and, like Lincoln, grasp again that faith for ourselves. 

But how? 

Perhaps by returning to our roots. 

There are over 100 passages in the Bible that talk about giving thanks.  If we survey them, we can detect five broad themes that may help us develop “an attitude of gratitude”: 

  • 1. Giving thanks is like medicine for the soul…and even the body.  In 2022, the Mayo Clinic published an article that details the many physiological and psychological benefits that come with regularly expressing gratitude.  The Bible likewise speaks of the peace that can come to our minds when we give thanks. There are many causes of depression and anxiety, and in no way do we want to diminish the role that a person’s biochemistry may have in these conditions.  And yet, it is becoming increasingly understood that developing the habit of giving thanks has a tremendously positive role in our overall health. 

  • 2. God is the ultimate object of our thanks.  Lincoln saw this clearly: God is the “Creator and Ruler of the universe.”  Starting here forces us to look at the big picture.  As our Creator, He gave us the gift of life.  As the Ruler of the universe, He sustains us and provides for our needs. 
  • But God is also in the little things, like those acts of kindness and compassion; or those gifts that bring us pleasure.  This is not to diminish the roles that other people usually play in blessing our lives in these ways, and it is good and right that we express our gratitude to them, too.  But when we also see them as from the hand of God, suddenly those “little things” are not so little anymore. 

  • 3. We can give thanks IN everything.  Notice the preposition.  Many circumstances we face are difficult, and painful.  Nowhere does the Bible say that we should give thanks FOR those things, as if they are independently good in themselves.  They are not.  But, if we choose to, we can look for God’s blessings even in the midst of those difficulties.  If we look hard enough, we may find them in the places where we least expected them. 

  • 4. Genuine thanksgiving is sacrificial.  About 10% of the Bible’s passages about giving thanks link that act to giving an offering of some kind.  If you think about it, this makes sense.  Words are cheap.  Merely muttering “thank you” is an empty gesture.  It needs something more to be meaningful. 
  • Of course, we naturally ask, what sort of offering should this be?  The answer is actually quite simple: it is ourselves. God does not need things; He wants us.  Accompanying our expressions of gratitude with humble submission is what pleases Him the most.

  • 5. Giving thanks is an important part of personal maturity.  We live in a “me, myself, and I” world. We have all heard the saying, “A person wrapped up in themselves becomes a very small package.” Such self-absorption alienates us from each other, and, if we’re honest, only leads to misery.  But a grateful heart is not focused on itself.  It is looking outward.  It is responding to a benefit received from someone else.  That takes humility.  It also stimulates us to serve others, rather than seek to be served by others.   

Usually, a blog post is supposed to function as a part of the company’s overall marketing strategy.  This time, however, we wanted to give you something: Perspective.  We truly do have much to be thankful for, both as individuals and as a nation.  And we believe, as Abraham Lincoln did, that it is good and right for us to take the time to offer up genuine thanksgiving to God for those blessings that He has given to us.  And along with our thanks, to offer up our prayers for the restoration of peace, for the healing of our wounds, and for a continuation of those blessings of liberty and prosperity that we have enjoyed in this great country of ours. 

So, from all of us at Carefree Kitchens, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!   

We give thanks to God for our customers!  

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