Thanksgiving- my favorite holiday. I enjoy the delight of family, the pleasure of good food, and the absence of presents.
But this year, in the midst of fissures that seem to deepen daily, I sense a climate of fear and frustration settling over our nation. The divisions politically, racially, and morally have us lining up and taking sides. Social media allows us to magnify these differences out of proportion. We argue on Facebook in ways we would never dare do face to face.
How did we get here?
Perhaps it was because we started only looking at ourselves, our desires, our understanding, our justifications, our perspectives. We, as individuals, have not only stopped considering others, worse, we have stopped thinking of the Lord. We are not lining up every idea and conviction with the Lord and His Word, to make sure we are basing what we hold so dear on Him.
He is the only unchangeable. The Rock. The Foundation. To get our focus on Jesus, and off ourselves, is the greatest need of our country.
The easiest way to focus on Jesus is to start thanking Him for everything we can think of. As we shift from pride to praise, we can stop congratulating ourselves on how we are right and those of other political persuasions are wrong. We can stop blaming others for our problems. We can stop protesting and start praising. We can stop condemning and start considering others interests ahead of our own.
Praising Jesus helps us stop all these destructive behaviors because we finally stop looking at ourselves. We stop examining our opponents. We shift our gaze to Him instead.
Jesus is the lens through which the view of all circumstances change. As we look at Him and view others through Him, our self-righteous opinions dissolve. Our hate evaporates. Our love increases.
Jesus changes everything.
To help myself shift from fear, frustration, arguing, and blame, I have collected some verses to concentrate on instead. I think I will print them out and hang them around the house so I can focus on the Lord.
Giving Thanks Instead
To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:17 NASB)
- Even when it is difficult- even when praising feels like a sacrifice- EVEN THEN I need to offer thanks to the Lord
Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, And give thanks to His holy name. (Psalm 97:12 NASB)
- I don't have to be glad about the present circumstances to be glad in the Lord, and praise is the vehicle that allows me to feel joy.
O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. (Isaiah 25:1 NASB)
- God has plans. The Lord of the Universe has got this, and He will execute His will in perfect faithfulness. So I can say good-bye to the fear born of uncertainty. The God Who has worked wonders in the past, holds the present, and knows the future.
So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture will give thanks to You forever; To all generations we will tell of Your praise. (Psalm 79:13 NASB)
- What am I telling my kids? What are they observing? What are they learning about the Lord from the way I am acting? My job is tell the generations of the wonder of my God, and my attitude and words of thanksgiving are a powerful way to accomplish that assignment.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:14-15 ESV)
- A thankful, loving heart is a place Christ, Who brings His peace with Him, can rule.
To only look at our current problems is short-sighted. It also produces anxiety and heart-burn.
Instead, regardless of how I feel, I will focus on Jesus and give thanks. I will choose the eternal view. I will choose Jesus.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 NASB)