I love the story of Rudyard Kipling, the great British writer. So popular were his writings that the British press reported that Kipling was making 10 shillings for every word he wrote. One day, he got a letter from some college kids. They wrote: “Dear Mr. Kipling, It is reported you are earning 1 shilling for every word you write. Enclosed is 1 shilling, please send us your best word.” Kipling replied by sending a blank piece of paper with one word on it: “Thanks.”
It is a great word isn’t it? The Thanksgiving Day holiday reminds us that gratitude is an essential Christian characteristic. In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wrote these words: “In the midst of a civil war of unequal magnitude and severity… I invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States to set aside and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”
Thanksgiving was commended in spite of the horrible circumstances of the war. Why? Because gratitude affirms our faith. Gratitude lifts us above our circumstances and rekindles hope for the future. Gratitude, for people of faith, helps us to remember that we are children of eternity.
The discipline of being thankful to God in spite of our circumstances helps us to see our blessings through our problems, and keeps us connected to the Lord. It is fashionable for people to bellyache and carp and complain and grumble about all their woes. At times we all do it. Sometimes, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s kinda fun to bellyache about our bad luck. “Woe is me!” But when we enter into a faith relationship with God, then the Lord becomes our partner in life. And from that point on, every day we have the choice to live like everyone else and see who can out complain the other, or to live in gratitude as children of our heavenly Father.
This is why gratitude is actually a good way to share our faith with others. In the midst of a cynical world, positive and grateful people shine like stars in the universe.
In the letter to the church at Colossae there is a special emphasis on thanksgiving. Like the refrain in a song, appeals to give thanks abound in this letter.
1:12: “and joyfully giving thanks to the Father..”
2:6,7: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
3:15: “And be thankful.”
3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
4:2: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Clearly, thanksgiving is expected of God’s people. You say, “But this has been a rough year, and my attitude isn’t what it should be.” It’s understandable that many of us feel that way. But God is faithful regardless of our feelings or attitudes. I love Nancy Speigelberg’s prayer: “O God of Second Chances and New Beginnings, Here I am again.”
So here we are again.
What’s your best word?
On behalf of our entire Crosswalk staff, I want to express how grateful to God we are for each one of you. God has placed you where you are for a purpose. His plan is slowly unfolding in your life. Let’s take that journey together with glad and grateful hearts!
Have a happy Thanksgiving Day celebration, and I hope to see you for a very special Sunday at Crosswalk!