What makes for a Happy Thanksgiving? That phrase ("Happy Thanksgiving") is one we throw around a great deal during this time of year, but what do we mean when we say it? I'm not trying to be overly analytical or critical of using that phrase ... in fact, I think most of us are very genuine when we extend that Thanksgiving wish to others. We simply want them to enjoy the time off, to hopefully get together with friends and family, to feast on all sorts of good food, to have a safe trip if any travel is involved, to avoid any family awkwardness, and to reflect on and be thankful for the abundant blessings we've received. So we probably use the phrase rather innocently and with all the right intentions.
But my real question is to myself ... what will make these next several days "happy" for me? With the exception of Addison, Tam, and baby Quin all the other Boykins will be gathered at our house - Dane, Brinkley, Ella, Yates, Alyson, and Cobi will be coming to join Anita, Seth, Tanner, Griff, and me ... this surely makes me happy to have such a houseful with my family. We've already started the talk about all the good food we're going to consume over these days and that also makes me happy. There's a chance we'll get some rain soon and that would make all of us happy. If my team wins on Saturday that would also add to a happy holiday weekend. But what if everyone called and had to cancel their visit? What if all our food was spoiled? What if it doesn't rain? What if my team loses? Is a "happy" Thanksgiving even possible at this point? Of course the answer is "yes."
Somehow Christianity in America has conditioned us to first thank God for all the stuff we get from Him ... and, to be honest, we do live in a plentiful land and have much reason to be thankful for all the material and physical blessings we've received. Somehow we've come to think we deserve such blessings, that God has recognized our heart for Him, and is rewarding us for our great faithfulness. We know this is true because if we at times don't receive such material blessings we quickly complain, start blaming someone else or even God Himself, and then essentially stop giving thanks to Him. The concept of grace has largely been set aside in that we think God "owes" us something. The harsh reality is God doesn't owe us anything and whatever good we do receive is only because of His grace. We deserve nothing other than His wrath, curse, and eternal condemnation but God has graciously given us eternal life in and through His Son, Jesus Christ, and with Him has called us to be His very own beloved children, called and adopted into His family, Him caring for us with a comprehensive and eternal love, co-heirs with Jesus of all the eternal riches in the heavenly realms.
Can I be thankful even if my kids have to cancel their trip? You bet I can! Even if my house burns down and I lose all my earthly possessions (which, btw, fade in comparison with the eternal possessions that are mine in Christ)? Yes. And if my team loses to our rival? Or course, because the victory for me was accomplished at the cross and resurrection!
I'm really not trying to make light of tragic situations that cause sorrow and grief. There will be families who won't be able to spend time together this Thanksgiving, many will be sitting home alone, and their will be much sadness. There will be those who experience tragedy that radically alters their lives. There are many who will be hungry. May we, who are abundantly blessed and have the opportunity and resources for God to use to bless others, take some time this Thanksgiving and reach out to some of these folks who are hurting and share with them, through Word and deed, the reason for our Thanksgiving, the Lord Jesus Christ.