Allegedly the “grateful” holiday, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Many, however, will be more interested in the shopping extravaganza of Black Friday and Black Monday. In fact, Thanksgiving seems like more of a gateway to Christmas. In fact, while American companies try to “one-up” each other, our Filipino brothers and sisters are way ahead of us! The four “- ber” months (September, October, November, December) officially begin the Christmas season in the Philippines.
Thankfully – see what I did there? – even if you don’t feel particularly gratefull, you can’t help but notice in your local craft store that the words grateful and blessing can be found written on barn wood or barn wood-looking boards. It’s trendy right now, which I am grateful for, because the world could use A. Lot. more gratitude.
If one of your Thanksgiving traditions includes sharing what you’re most thankful for as you gather around the turkey, have you ever though about what gratitude really is?
A number of similar words come to mind: selfless, appreciative, humble, sacrificial.
And some opposites as well: entitled, arrogant, self-absorbed, selfish.
But only one person ever embodied those synonyms and could never be described by those antonyms: Jesus Christ, who came to earth to turn it upside down and debunk a lot of the generally accepted truths of his day, such as . . .
“Money and power are required to earn your way to heaven.”
“God desires good works over meekness and humility.”
“God rewards those who prove their righteousness through public prayers.”
“Knowing Scripture backwards and forwards makes you more holy.”
But most blasphemous of all was Jesus’ message about the law, the one Moses received on the mountain and what we think of as the Ten Commandments. What was his message? “Scrap it. It’s now longer valid. You can’t get to heaven through good works and obeying laws.”
Then he said something that helped to seal his fate, crucifixion: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me.” He claimed to be the Savior of the world who came to offer salvation to a broken and desperate world full of sinful people.
People like me. People like you. And I, for one, am grateful that my sin and that of every other person in the world, was nailed to the cross so we can have life. If you need proof of that miraculous and life-altering salvation, I can personally testify that not only did he hear my submissive prayer, he also gifted me with his Holy Spirit that works round the clock to convict, comfort, and guide me through life’s struggles and profound heartbreaks.
He changed the direction of my life, which was quickly approaching nowhere-ville until I surrendered my life to his will instead of my own. It was a long time ago, but the more I know about him, the more I want to make him known to those who are lost. And the more I want to express gratitude for saving me.
If you want the kind of “peace that passes understanding,” surrender to him today.
If your heart longs for joy even in life’s pain, stop striving for the world’s false blessings and let God fill you with his presence.
Only then will you wake up every morning with a truly grateful heart.