It is traditional to make a list of things you are thankful for at Thanksgiving. Most of the time we focus on material things we have been blessed with. Some go deeper, thanking God for spiritual blessings bestowed during the year. Thanks for friends, family, health and employment top many lists. One category that gets left off many lists is arguably the most important. We should thank God for the things He has taken away from us.
In order to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind as commanded means we have to give up any and everything that obscures Him in our lives. Praise be to Him that He works in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son. To do this, He many times has to prune away those things that hinder us from reaching that goal. It may be that He has helped you to kick a destructive habit, end an unhealthy relationship, stop a hurtful lifestyle. It may be that He has forced you to accept the death of a loved one in order to lean only on Him. He may have taken away your job in order to prove to you that He is sufficient to meet all your needs.
As you make your list this year, how about including thanks for the things taken away that has made your faith stronger? I guarantee that it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
As Thanksgiving rolls around, I am once again dismayed by the lack of contentment and gratitude among the masses. It is very hard to be thankful for what you have already been blessed with if you are in a hurry and a worry about getting more stuff the very next day. I know the arguments – stuff is cheaper so it is good stewardship to buy on Black Friday. Or, that a person is buying for others and not themselves, gifts for Christmas Day. My answer – it is even better stewardship not to buy at all unless something is absolutely needed. The same holds true whether you are buying for yourself or others.
I am not saying that one cannot buy things for fun. What I am saying is that we should not try to justify or spiritualize our indulgence. We need to simplify our lives and practice giving to the kingdom of God rather than secular merchants. Guys – how many guns, video games or fishing equipment do you really need? Ladies – how many shoes, kitchen gadgets or spa treatments do you really need? Do any of us really think $95 designer jeans are better than $20 discount store ones? Do we really need the latest upgraded electronic device, the latest model pickup, the “in-fashion” clothing? Can we not be content and thankful for what we have already been blessed with, instead of telling God that we are not satisfied and we have to have more.
Are we truly grateful for His provision, or are we greedily planning on getting yet more stuff that won’t have any bearing on a person’s eternal destiny?