Giving thanks doesn't come once a year

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving this year is going to be hard for lots of people. So many are either unemployed or underemployed. For some, economics have no role in thankfulness. This could be their first Thanksgiving alone. Instead of gathering around the picturesque, Norman Rockwell-style table overflowing with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pies, their Thanksgiving meal is going to be a microwave turkey TV dinner. If there was ever a year when it was hard to be thankful at Thanksgiving, this could be the year.

Thanksgiving is not dependent upon the calendar. Certainly it is a wonderful American tradition for celebrating freedom and thankfulness for blessings, yet Thanksgiving can be an expression of thankfulness that goes beyond a day and breaks the boundaries of our circumstances. The scriptures share with us in Philippians that "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God." (4:5b-6)

We can be thankful in all conditions because he does not turn his back on us even when we turn our back on him. Our circumstances, even the ones we created ourselves, are a breeding ground for anxiety. Anxiety creates uneasiness, fear of the future and feelings of being overwhelmed by the past and doubting the present.

Combating anxiety is first and foremost a matter of faith -- faith that no matter the conditions that we find ourselves in, God is through his strength able to deliver, faith that he is not caught off-guard. We are surprised when life throws curves, but God never is.

Combating anxiety is also a matter of praying with thanksgiving. Praying, asking God to intervene in your life by meeting the needs that you have. The battle comes in our own thinking to be full of thanksgiving for the way in which we have been provided for. Thankfulness is fuel for faith. When we thank God for the ways he has answered us, it fuels our faith.

Choosing to be thankful in faith is the strongest weapon in discouraging times. Choosing to be thankful in faith reminds your own soul that God is ever active and can make life better.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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