Why Thanksgiving Is Important
I'm not always sure people understand the importance of being thankful. It's a pretty complicated thing!
First, we understand that everything that we have and everything we are is a gift from God, signs of his goodness and care for those who call upon his name. We have nothing to boast about - it is God's doing in our lives.
Second, we understand that our life, lived as God's people, is a series of blessings meant to be used to be a blessing to others. It isn't about the stuff we have - it's about the blessings of life, love, grace, peace and hope we enjoy, through which we are able to share with those in need.
Third, by having an attitude of thanksgiving - that is, acknowledging God and praising him for all his mercy and kindness to us, we are set free from the anxieties and cares that occupy most people's hearts and minds.
The 2nd lesson for Thanksgiving Eve calls us out of anxiety and into peace - it is one of my favorite texts in the whole New Testament.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9 (NRSV)
By being thankful, we are able to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable and excellent, rather than on the anxiety-inducing drama and trauma of life.