The Middle Child of the Holidays
Thanksgiving, the “middle child” of holidays between Halloween and Christmas, has unfortunately become only a blip of a reminder to give thanks. The anticipation of Thanksgiving grows shorter each year with the increasing popularity of Halloween and Harvest Festivals. And then you barely finish carving the turkey, and the onslaught of the Christmas shopping season takes over (if it hasn’t already).
This “overlooked child” treatment of Thanksgiving is especially unfortunate for our culture as fear and anxiety appear to be on the rise. Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, describes how politicians, companies and the media have played a big part in increasing fear in people’s minds. Glassner explains how these various groups have discovered ways to trigger fear in people and have started using that knowledge more and more frequently to drive consumer behavior. However, I believe giving thanks can actually play a part in dispelling some of those fears and anxieties.
One of the biggest things that we can be thankful for is this: We know that in the end, God is victorious over Satan and evil. The hope for those of us who trust in Jesus is that we will spend eternity with God and that there will be no more pain or tears (Revelation 21:4). And in the meantime, between now and then, we are instructed in Philippians 4:6 “not to be anxious, but with thanksgiving present [our] requests (our fears! our anxieties!) to God.” And we should rightly ask God because He is a good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).
However you celebrate Thanksgiving, I encourage you to find time to be still and think about what you are thankful for. As you give thanks, go beyond celebrating the stuff you have and even people in your life and celebrate the Giver who ultimately gave those things to you and put those people in your life. Let your praise and your thanksgiving go higher than just being thankful for earthly things, and let it resound with praise of your heavenly Father!
As you are reminded of our gracious and generous heavenly Father, some of that fear and anxiety will begin to subside, and the peace of God will begin to “guard your heart and mind” (Philippians 4:7). Father, thank you for the peace and the hope and the joy and the love that we have in you!
Enjoy the turkey and the mashed potatoes, and remember to give thanks to the Father in all things!