It’s Thanksgiving Week and many of us are busily preparing for family get-togethers, a big holiday meal, and perhaps parades or football. And, of course, Black Friday shopping.
You may be excited to see family and view the cooking and preparations as fun. Or it may be stressful because certain family members don’t get along or you worry that the meal won’t satisfy everyone. For some, the holiday will spotlight the recent loss of a dearly loved one.
What’s often forgotten among the preparations and visitations is the reason for the celebration: to thank God for His provision. The Pilgrims were grateful to have survived their first year and to have a bountiful harvest to get them through the next winter. When Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November a national holiday in the midst of the Civil War, he urged all Americans to “heal the wounds of our nation.” [Read more of the history here.]
I woke this morning with the hymn Count Your Many Blessings running through my head:
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard or sung this song, so I’m not sure why it was in my mind, but it’s appropriate for this week. No matter what you’re going through, take time to acknowledge the good things in your life. And remember the One who deserves the thanks, because He is good all the time, even when we don’t see the good.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV).
Notice Paul didn’t say give thanks for everything–he knew what it was like to suffer. Many things happen to us that we will not be thankful for. But we can be thankful in all circumstances if we consider all the ways God blesses us.
The Psalmist declared,
“You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told” (Psalm 40:5, ESV).
This, I believe, is the basis for the hymn. We cannot count every blessing God bestows on us–there are so many, and some we may not even know about. But we can praise Him because of His “thoughts toward us.”
This week, why not count your blessings? If each person does this, it could be the beginning of the answer, in our time, to Lincoln’s prayer to “heal the wounds of our nation.” At the very least, it will make this holiday a real day of Thanksgiving for you.