I love the whole holiday season, from the first signs of fall to the beginning of the new year. Changing leaves, cooler temperatures, decorations, lights, Christmas music, the social hustle and bustle, the festivities and parties … even my introverted self goes all in for the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this joyous season.
Did you know we were created to enjoy beauty? God designed us with five senses and the innate ability to perceive the good things of this world. For example, I am writing this while sitting on my back porch on an unusually warm November day. The trees are tipped with gold and red. The breeze is quietly rustling the leaves. A good cup of coffee is in my right hand, and a small puppy is playing at my feet.
Yet in ministry, the holiday months can often be described in one word—busy. Our church calendars fill to capacity, and, if we have kids living at home, their school and extracurricular activities seem to ramp up, too. But crazy calendars and a barrage of holiday events shouldn’t stop us from enjoying God’s glorious creation. This is a time for thanksgiving—something that should be in the lifestyle of a believer, and not just a date on the calendar.
So, here are two keys to creating the lifestyle of thanksgiving we see modeled in Scripture: being intentional in giving thanks, and giving public praise to the Lord.
Psalm 8:3-4 says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
Our great God cares for us so very much. He created the heavens, and the work of His hands gives us beauty upon beauty upon beauty to enjoy. He could have created a sterile world—black and white only—with just our basic needs met. Instead, He has blessed us with a rainbow of colors and an alarming amount of sounds, scents and tastes that should send us to our knees in gratitude. They are His blessings for us.
Thanksgiving is more than a holiday, it is a way of life. Giving thanks means being intentional to look for God’s blessings, to notice His hand in our lives, and to respond with gratitude. We have to pay attention to what is around us. It’s far easier to put our heads down and focus on our problems, but it takes intent and focus to look up and around and see the good things God has given us.
Psalm 35:18 says, “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.” In order for us to cultivate hearts of thanksgiving in our families and churches we need to be public in our praise of God. Our family and friends need to see and hear our offering of thanksgiving to God. I find that an attitude of thanksgiving is “catching.” The more people see me giving glory to God, the more they do so. Our praises are contagious. Our children and husbands will catch on, our churches will catch on and our friends will catch on when we focus our thoughts and words on God’s blessings.
Even if your life is difficult right now with family situations, trouble in ministry or a different kind of heartache at home, take a few minutes each day to walk outside and enjoy the glory of God’s creation. Fill your home with the good things of the season. Praise Him in “the sanctuary” of your heart and life. Be intentional, and be public. Christians demonstrating thankful and grateful hearts may be just what our world needs today.
Published November 24, 2016