My husband and I do one thing really well. We know how to kill a Thanksgiving.
I say that regarding the worst Thanksgiving I’ve ever spent. Roy and I both woke up with the flu. Our son was three and he most definitely was not sick. We thought we’d try to make it to my Grandma’s for Thanksgiving, but the closer it got to time to leave, the sicker we got.
This was before the days of cell phones and my parents, brother and sister had already left. We waited until we thought they had arrived and called to tell them we wouldn’t be there. They offered to come back and get Andrew but we said we’d survive.
We got sicker and sicker. However the three-year-old was feeling wonderful and couldn’t figure out why Mom and Dad weren’t willing to play with him. Mom and Dad were doing little besides making numerous trips to bathroom and moaning and groaning.
We were so sick we didn’t even remember to feed our son. However, at age three he knew where the important things in life were located. He pulled a chair to the pantry, climbed up and located the box of cheerios. We were just glad he was quiet.
My parents finished Thanksgiving and came in the house to find Andrew eating dry cheerios off the kitchen floor where he had spilled the entire box. Well, at least he didn’t starve that Thanksgiving. He was none the worse for the wear and didn’t catch the flu. My parents took him home with them after leaving us with Gatorade and crackers.
That year there was no turkey for the Parkers. Do we know how to kill a Thanksgiving or what?
As I recall there was very little thankfulness going on that year either. It’s really hard to be thankful when you are worshipping on your knees at the porcelain throne.
Besides ways to kill the day we celebrate as Thanksgiving, many times we kill the spirit of thankfulness as well. Here are some ways my pastor, Jeremy Risener, pointed out that we tend to kill the spirit of thanksgiving.
Being sick on Thanksgiving Day we could have said, “God why do they get to eat turkey and we don’t. Why have you overlooked us this Thanksgiving.”
However, the Bible tells us “to give thanks in all circumstance.”1 It doesn’t say to give thanks for all circumstances, but in the circumstances. Looking back at the worst Thanksgiving Day we were not very thankful in the midst of our circumstance.
That scripture also tells us to “rejoice always, pray continually and to not quench the Spirit.” Risener explained, “Joy is the deep understanding that God is still and always at work. If there is any joy found in the Lord we must humble and avail ourselves to prayer.
It’s easy to kill the spirit of thanksgiving by wanting, always wanting more than we have. The Thanksgiving in question I wasn’t wanting much more than to not be sick, but unfortunately that’s not always true.
When I start shopping for Christmas gifts for others, which usually happens around Thanksgiving, I inevitably buy one of these and one of those for myself, just in case no one gets it for me. And yes, I recognize it as plain and simple coveting, selfishness and greed.
Covetousness “dethrones God and places stuff, money, possessions, relationships, experiences, pleasure on the throne of your life,” Risner explained. “It is impossible to love your neighbor as yourself when you lust after stuff, especially their stuff.”
I suppose on Thanksgiving in question we were clothed fairly inappropriately. I mean tacky sweats and PJs just aren’t proper for a Thanksgiving feast.
As Christians we are to clothe ourselves with Christ and not think about “how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”2 On this day of feasting, most people are thinking about gratifying by stuffing it with pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade bread. Oh, and throw in a little turkey for good measure.
What Paul is talking about, though, is not “what you are wearing but Who you are wearing,” Risener said. “We are to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ. And put on the armor of truth, righteousness, salvation and the gospel as according to Ephesians 6.”
Ok, we complained, a lot, on this particular Thanksgiving. I mean we were missing out on a great meal, great family fun, great laughter. It just wasn’t fair. What had we done wrong? Why couldn’t this malady wait at least one day?
Sometimes we complain even about our blessings. We live in the greatest nation in the world and yet we are always complaining about something, even getting sick on Thanksgiving.
Of course, Paul tells us to “do everything without grumbling or complaining so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”3
Want a way to instantly make your light go out? Be negative. See problems and not promises. “Gratitude is grounded in hope and trust,” Risener said. “It is the character of God and the nature of His promises. It is the Presence of God in the midst of the storm.”
Most Thanksgivings in the past I have found myself always eating. It’s like I could never get full. Of course this wasn’t true on the sick Thanksgiving. On that day, I couldn’t seem to get empty.
There is the sense, though, that we continually seek after more and more stuff that we think we need, deserve or want. Yet when Christ is in my life, I am full or I should be.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”4
As an American I struggle with the concept of being content in whatever situation I am in. I often find myself, essentially, praying for contentment, for comfort. I don’t want to have to face the hard stuff. No one does.
Yet what Paul says in these verses is that when we find ourselves in the midst of difficult circumstances we are to focus not on the circumstances but on inner peace. It is through gratefulness joy is birthed.
“The world is not my home and contentment is not what I can get or gain,” Risener said. “The first commandment of I am the Lord your God is related to the 10th commandment of Do not covet. If you break 10 you break them all.”
I ask myself often, is God my everything? Is it true that God is God without a second? If I have nothing but God, is He enough?
A.W. Tozer said it best. “The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the ‘and’ lies our great woe. If we omit the ‘and,’ we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing for.”
It is not God-and other things. There is only room for One on the throne of my heart.
This Thanksgiving think about the One to whom you should be giving Thanks for everything.5 Do away with killing the spirit of Thanksgiving. Don’t just let it have its way for one day. Let thanksgiving to God rule and reign in our lives every day.
1 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
2 Romans 13:14
3 Philippians 1:14-16
4 Philippians 4:11-13
5 Epheisans 5:15-20