It amazes me how easily we forget the real object of our gratitude at Thanksgiving. This holiday was established in 1621 by Pilgrims who decided to thank God for his provision and care for their lives in the struggle to establish a new life in a new world. What does it take for me and you to be equally as grateful to God in our lives? Can we say as the psalmist in Psalm 107:1 proclaims, "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever"?
Frankly, I am often guilty of making the Thanksgiving Mistake. It’s easy to make. This mistake becomes the reason why I coast through this holiday season without giving much thought to God and His provision in my life. This mistake is likely why you will take off work, watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, cheer on the Cowboys and eat ungodly amounts of food and give little more than a measly prayer before you eat. The Thanksgiving Mistake causes us to miss the very reason we celebrate at all. This mistake causes us to favor ourselves instead of recognizing the One who has given us His favor.
So, what is the Thanksgiving Mistake? We limit our gratitude to what we feel instead of what is real. This is a subtle deception. We allow our feelings to be in charge of our thankfulness. Thus, we are not as thankful as we have reason to be. The reality of our lives is we have much for which to be thankful.
Often our desire to be grateful to God is hindered by our fear of looking too religious. We hesitate to call our family and friends to give thanks to God for all He has done, though we know good and well He has done great things. This mistake is often made simply because we are too busy to stop and recognize the favor of God in our lives. We become selfish with His favor and forget the good He has done. This mistake is often made because we limit our thanks to those we see and fail to thank the One we cannot see. This mistake is also made because of tragedy or some source of pain in our lives. I would not suggest that anyone struggling this time of year to simply pretend to not feel pain or sorrow. However, I would also encourage you to see beyond the pain, to recognize that God is your only hope in the midst of pain. And in your case, choosing to be thankful when you don't feel like it is a powerful act of faith in God.
I hope you will not allow the Thanksgiving Mistake to rob you of the chance to thank God for all He is and all He has done.