Posted in Character, Faith

The Thanksgiving Tree

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A couple weeks ago, one of my staff members surprised me. She came into my office and declared, “I think you’re rubbing off on me. May I show you something?”

My curiosity was piqued, and I traipsed after her to the staff meeting room.

“You know how I don’t like to think deeply about things?…” she began.

“Like, not at all,” I teased. This staff member clearly doesn’t enjoy my love for introspection and exploring the “why” behind “what” we do, but she is always a good sport during staff meeting exercises.

“Well, you got to me.” She chuckled as she pointed to the wall.

There on the wall was a large poster with a bare tree made of construction paper.

“It’s a Thanksgiving tree,” she explained. “There are paper leaves to write what we a thankful for, and then we put them on the tree. I made one for the office and one for my house.”

I smiled with delight. She was correct. The Thanksgiving tree was right up my alley. My staff and I have been filling the bare places on the tree with colorful notes of gratitude. We still have a lot to add.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Even though it isn’t a church-centered occasion like Christmas and Easter, it is still very much Biblical.

The Bible refers to giving thanks and gratitude over 140 times. That number doesn’t include the word praise, which involves the element of thanksgiving.

As Christ-followers we should be the most grateful people on the planet. Consider the gift of salvation that our heavenly Father provided through the excruciating sacrifice of Jesus. We who were separated by sin from Him are now in relationship with Him. We have been adopted as His dearly loved children. What else do we really need? Anything else is a bonus. And yet, He has poured out His blessings on us.

Thanksgiving is a time built into our calendar where we can focus our attention on gratitude. We live in a culture of entitlement. It’s easy to get sucked into the lie that we deserve more than we have. Regardless of our income, we somehow believe we should have a comfortable place to live, a nice car, the newest version of the iPhone (sorry, Android users) and other technology, and go out to eat as often as we want. All our ventures should succeed, and we should enjoy widespread recognition for our accomplishments. Add other things to the list as it applies. Negativity seeps into our lives as we entertain these kinds of thoughts. Negativity breeds discouragement. Discouragement infects others. Tragically I have witnessed families and groups—even entire organizations—dismantled by discouragement.

Hope is required to move forward from a set back, disappointment, or mess. Hope allows us to to see the blessings and possibilities in our lives. Gratitude primes the pump for a positive, hope-filled perspective.

Perhaps you feel that your life is lacking, that it is bare like a deciduous tree in winter. You can turn that around by reflecting on your blessings and adding the colors of gratitude. If you’d like you can even start your own Thanksgiving tree. And then, use it to inspire you to develop the discipline of gratitude throughout the year.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever (1Chronicles 16:34).

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, it is easy to get caught up in an attitude of thanklessness. Open my eyes to see where I have allowed selfishness to rule and to discover any lies I have believed. Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth. Show me how to live with a perspective of gratitude during this Thanksgiving season and throughout the year. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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