The crisp fall air stirs and evokes cherished memories of holidays gone by as we anticipate gathering with loved ones. But every year, the holidays might look a little different, and expectations built on past celebrations can rob us of the present. There might be an empty chair at the table this year, or maybe circumstances this year have left you limping along to the holidays. It is easy to try to cultivate gratitude based on past memories, but as we approach another Thanksgiving, how can we steward a grateful heart in the present and make our celebrations extra special? Below are 5 principles to help you make the most of your Thanksgiving and, more than that, of your life!
1 Thessalonians 5:18
"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Embrace God's provision for today. Recognize and value what you have now, not what you had yesterday. Look around and praise God for His provision and for the people in your life. Embracing our reality is more than just accepting our lot in this life. It is welcoming what God has given and choosing to do what we can with our present circumstances and provision from God.
"I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago."
Reflect on and trace the goodness of God in your life that has brought you to where you are today. When we consider that all we have now is part of God's plan, we can be grateful that all the inner workings of our lives are not happenstance but a part of God's redemption that is woven into a beautiful tapestry of the good and hard.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Steward the present as a divine appointment in your life and refuse to want someone else's lot of your former one. While we might savor some traditions, we also might need to replace our expectations with contentment for what we are so blessed to have in this moment and season of our lives.
1 Peter 4:10
"Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others as good managers of the varied grace of God."
Give yourselves and others around you grace when things don't look like what you had hoped. Thanksgiving and life won't be perfect, but when grace covers us and our loved ones, we seek to serve them rather than having them serve our idea of how things should be.
"He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me."
Give yourself space to grieve the losses you have encountered and make space for what God has for you now. We don't own His blessings, but we would not want to hold onto yesterday's manna when He has something new for us today.
Below are some resources to help you cultivate gratitude this season and your whole life through. May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving season filled with wonder and joy that we are the most blessed because of Christ's salvation and eternal love for us.
Jeff Rogers, CEP®, CKA®