For most, but not for everyone, Thanksgiving is a day with lots of good things to eat, parades and football games to watch, family traditions to be celebrated.
During this special day, usually at the beginning of the meal, someone rises to the occasion and gives thanks for all the blessings of the past year.
A family spokesperson reminds us of additions to the family, milestones achieved, and significant people no longer present. If only momentarily, people are united in giving thanks and saying Amen.
In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I ask what happens to all the ’Thanks” after Thanksgiving Day.
The forgetfulness of “Thanks” the day after Thanksgiving
I wonder if we have forgotten what we learned early on in life. Conscientious parents have always gently reminded us as children… “And what do we say when someone gives you something?”
When it comes to God, we seem to be slipping back into an entitlement mentality of very young children who do not think to say “thank you” for everything that is given.
I have clear memories of the disappointment of a rambunctious boy who opened a Christmas present and discovered clothes! That was not what I expected or wanted. I wanted a chemistry set, not knowing my lack of understanding would lead to an “explosion” that required repainting the kitchen ceiling!
Think back to your own experiences today. How many times have you felt gratitude for something that challenged you? How often have I said a perfunctory thank you… or its digital equivalent, “like”?
Often we do not recognize that we are like the 9 beggars who Jesus cured of their leprosy. They got lost in the gift. They missed the greater miracle Jesus was pointing to. Tey were not expecting it cost his life.
A prosperity gospel
It is relatively easy to say thank you when God comes through and gives us something we want very much.
After all, we sort of paid for it with our prayers, and maybe even sacrifices. I said so many prayers or made some major promises to do something I think will earn God’s favor. God should have the courtesy to give me what I ask for.
The grownup version is a sort of “prosperity gospel”. I know God loves me because God gives me what I want.
But the real challenge we face is to develop an “attitude of gratitude”.
Brian Tracy puts the challenge this way…
Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.
Jesus ‘ Gospel of dying and rising
Jesus’ rising after his greatest tragedy tells us even undeserved suffering and death could not separate him… and us… from the love that is greater than the worst possible tragedy of an ignominious death.
In the Garden, Jesus asked God to spare him suffering. He knew what was coming. But he trusted that his death would be the sign that no matter what would happen, his death would reveal how much God loved us. Even his death would be part of God’s plan. “Where sin abounded, the gift of God’s love was greater.”
As Christians, we realize this is the cycle of death and resurrection. And for all parts of that cycle, we strive to say thank you. When we do, we enter into the daily dying and rising with Christ.
Saying thank you every day… for all things
- Do we take the good things in life for granted?
- Can we see instances when something we thought was bad was actually a blessing?
- Do we accept and thank God for our daily dying and rising with Christ?