downloadThis year Thanksgiving will have a different feel for our family.
This past Sunday we celebrated an early Thanksgiving dinner with all but one member of our family. On Thanksgiving, my wife Terese and I will be on an airplane on our way to visit the one who couldn’t attend that meal— our daughter Annie—who is currently studying in Seoul, South Korea.  For my wife and I, it will be a Thanksgiving up in the air for 21 hours.

It will also be a different kind of “Thanksgiving up in the air” for some dear friends:

•    This week one of our friends enters round 2 of chemotherapy for lung cancer.

•    Some of our relatives and friends will gather over a dinner without a loved one who passed away this year.

•    Others will mark the holiday with fractured family relationships, financial difficulties, and more.

I pray for these precious people— with heartfelt longing— that God will bring them healing, comfort, provision, and restoration. I thank God for placing them in my life even as I pray for His grace, peace, and strength in their season of waiting and enduring.

The juxtaposition of giving thanks in the middle of change, uncertainty, or pain seems stark and daunting.  Even so, I still believe that Thanks-giving is possible when we allow God into our hearts and minds as we also acknowledge to Him our heartbreaks, weaknesses, and anxiousness.

God does not want or expect us to simply try harder to make an attitude of thanksgiving happen on our own.  In fact, the key to Thanksgiving is asking God to reach into our being and infuse us with His Presence.  Jesus simply stated,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28)

Jesus gives us His rest. We give Him our thanks.

Giving thanks is not some separate thing we do apart from prayerfully asking or even pleading to God to intervene in our circumstances. Authentic, heartfelt, and God-honoring prayers are supercharged with power as we also remember God’s unmatched power and love that has been evidenced in our lives.  Read the plea to God found in 1 Chronicles 16:34-35:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.”

In an amazing melding of trust and faith, thanks and pleas to God can be joined so that the flood of His power can flow into the hearts, people, and events of our life.

As we have tasted and seen God’s goodness, we can choose to GIVE thanks— both in and beyond circumstances and challenges— to the God who loves us and promises that all things will ultimately work together for our good. So whether you are firmly planted in stable times, or up in the air of uncertainty, present your heartfelt prayers with thanks to the God who formed you and cares for you.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

With thanks,

Chris Atkins

Consider giving my book to someone as a Christmas gift this year!  You’ll find  “The Isaiah Encounter: Living An Everyday Life of Worship” at Barnes and Noble and Amazon:

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