Thanksgiving Tools

With the holiday this year, there are always challenges to obeying the Biblical command to “give thanks in every situation” and “be grateful.” When the holidays role around, there are a few extra minutes in between turkey naps and football games. Spend a few minutes prayerfully pondering the below suggestions to help with Thanksgiving for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Gratitude or Grumbling?

Fewer folks attend in-person services at church. Grocers spread limited boxes of baking soda across store shelves to mask the empty space. Why shouldn’t turkeys want to skip town for the holidays too?

I’ve often felt a similar instinct at this time of year. In the midst of so much loss, why participate at all? What’s there really to be thankful for? Perhaps we could postpone festivities dedicated to gratitude until we have more to celebrate…

Call it thankfulness or gratitude, appreciative feelings can be hard to access when life is hard. Thankfully, the psalms offer us a beautiful model of how to genuinely express gratitude in seasons of scarcity, pain, and disappointment…

Midway through, each psalm of lament reaches a pivot point. The complaining wears down, and quiet settles in. And then, like the familiar cadence of prayer around the holiday table, the psalmist begins to give thanks. My heart rejoices in your salvationI will sing your praise. You are my King. (Ps. 13:5–6, 44:4) Pain mingles with praise. Grumbling gives way to glorifying. We are not left alone with lament. In sorrow, the psalms of lament affirm: praise can still be our song.

God invites us, too, in the quiet exhaustion of our grief, to name his goodness. We rehearse these truths to our hearts as a bold creed when scarcity is writ large across our lives. In want and plenty, God is good. In sorrow and joy, he is present. In all things he offers us the abundance of his power and lavishes us with provision. Truly, those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing (Ps. 34:10). Lament gives us opportunity to complain before God, but it always expands our vision to include the beauty of his faithfulness.

Continue reading “How To Move From Grumble to Gratitude” at TGC

Toxic Thanksgiving?

In the past year, I’ve had a lot to give thanks for. After several years of renting, the Lord blessed my family with a home of our own. Shortly after moving, we had a healthy baby boy, our second child. These are amazing and wonderful blessings, undeserved gifts of God’s grace! I do my best not to take them for granted, and sometimes when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed, I remind myself how blessed I am. Yet, despite the importance and benefits of expressing gratitude, it’s possible for giving thanks to become toxic…

I was intrigued when I first heard the term “toxic positivity.” How could positivity be a bad thing? The phrase refers to times when being positive (expressing thankfulness or gratitude) is used to ignore or suppress hard, negative aspects of life, rather than focusing on and acknowledging hardship or pain. The fact is many parts of life are difficult because we live in a fallen world. Even the blessings in our life are tainted by the effects of sin. A new house is a blessing for my family, but that blessing comes with increased work and financial responsibility which, to be truthful, is tiring and frequently stressful. A new child is a wonderful and gracious gift from God, yet taking care of a newborn is no easy task. It’s demanding and exhausting. Every blessing, in a fallen world, has its challenges and difficulties…

Toxic positivity will only lead to bitterness and cynicism because it offers no path through trials. It merely denies them, and denying them doesn’t change the fact that they’re real. Biblical positivity, or thankfulness, leads us to God in worship, even amidst the real trials and pains we experience.

Continue reading “When Giving Thanks Becomes Toxic” at Core Christianity →

About blund

Brian J. Lund is minister of Word & Sacrament at Zion Evangelical & Reformed Church. You can follow him at his website or @BrianJLund.
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