This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, Nov 22
What is Thanksgiving? I know that it is this Thursday, but I mean the experience of Thanksgiving, what is it? Often I think it is a feeling. When something happens that I appreciate, I experience thanks. But is that true Thanksgiving? I think that is more gratitude. Gratitude is a feeling; it is a response. It means I can feel gratitude now because I am enjoying a few potato chips. But I don’t know that I am feeling Thanksgiving.
The difference between Thanksgiving and gratitude is a choice. You feel gratitude as a response to something that has happened. It is a natural reaction you feel when something nice happens. Thanksgiving is something that you have to choose to do. You have to make a choice to be thankful. You can be thankful even if you don’t feel any gratitude at all. In fact, when life has taken away any experience of gratitude, to decide to be thankful becomes much more important. You will live a life devoid of any positivity at all if you decide to just wait to be thankful when you feel gratitude. Life may never grant you that opportunity.
What is a life devoid of Thanksgiving? It inevitably turns to narcissism, which is to completely turn inward. God did not wire us to live solely focused on ourselves. We actually experience joy when we serve others. If you don’t or can’t decide to be thankful, that will turn your life toward yourself. Let me give you an example. When was the last time you noticed your thumb? I mean really paid attention to your thumb? I have to admit, I don’t pay attention to my thumb very often. But if you get a blister on your thumb, you won’t be able to pay attention to anything else. Your thumb will be the center of your world as long as it hurts. You will miss everything else because something about your thumb is not what it should be.
Your soul is the same. A life that is incapable or unwilling to experience thanksgiving is wounded. Something is wrong, which is why you lack Thanksgiving. Your soul is just like your thumb, you don’t notice it until it hurts because something isn’t right. Something in your life is out of alignment and creating pain. This causes you to lose the ability to see outside of yourself. The cost of this condition is the lack of ability to be thankful. Your life begins and ends with what is broken inside of yourself because you can see nothing else.
The only way to heal this condition is to decide to be thankful. Not to wait until you feel gratitude, but to decide to be thankful. It doesn’t mean you have to fake being happy. It means you have to recognize there are things, people, and events you are thankful for. Not being able to recognize that truth represents a brokenness inside of you, and it will remain broken until you give it the chance to heal.
The first step to healing is to recognize something is wrong. If you struggle to conjure up feelings of Thanksgiving, then asking why there is nothing to be thankful for is the wrong question. The question you should be asking is why you are not able to be thankful. You will never find the brokenness inside of you by looking at the world around you while asking what is wrong with everything else.
Healing of any kind begins with a decision. A decision to do something different. A decision to try a different approach, and that is what I want to challenge you to do during the next few weeks. This is the season of Thanksgiving. One of the very special things we are going to do leading up to Turkey Day is have a community Thanksgiving service TONIGHT at 6:00 p.m. at the ST MARYS THEATER. The service will be led by Worship Anyway and will feature a few local ministers. It will be a time of sharing thanks in a public way, and we would love to have you join us.
After the service, starting at 7:00 p.m., we are going to show the funniest Thanksgiving movie ever made, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I invite you to come and experience the joy of worship followed by the experience of community as the movie plays in one of the coolest theaters in a 50-mile radius.
The doors of our theater will open at 5:30 p.m. and we want to fill the place up. Please chose to come and be a part of our community celebration by declaring you are thankful above all else.