Thanksgiving is truly a good thing. When we embrace thankfulness, our hearts are warmed and softened. When we give thanks among one another, our hearts are moved and inspired. We sometimes shed tears from being inspired deeply. That’s when our hardened hearts are often softened -- through the tears. Those who give us true inspiration are the ones who give thanks even during difficult circumstances.
Job lived four millennia ago. However, the story of Job still gives inspiration to numerous people today. The reason for that is Job was thankful even in the most difficult circumstances. Job lost all his possessions. He also lost all his children. Even so, Job fell before God and worshipped Him. He offered praise to God. The praise that he offered was the praise of thanksgiving. What allowed Job to give thanks in difficult circumstances was the grace of God. When we receive God’s grace, our spiritual eyes are opened. As the grace of God was with Job, his spiritual eyes opened.
When our spiritual eyes open like Job's, we begin to see things others do not. We begin to understand things others do not. The reason Job was able to give thanks was because he was able to see things others could not. He was able to see God in the midst of his suffering. He was able to see the abundant blessings God had given him throughout his life. He was able to see himself being born naked, and he was able to see himself dying naked as well. And he realized that everything that was given to him between the nakedness of birth and death was by the grace of God. He realized that they were the gifts of God. For that reason, he was able to give thanks even in the most painful situation.
When we give thanks, we begin to see what we have received from God. When we give thanks, we begin to see the what we have rather than the things that were lost. Even when he lost all his possessions, Job still had two things remaining. They were God and his wife. Those who possess God, even if they lose everything, can always start again. They can experience a turn-around in their lives. However, those who do not possess God, even when they seem like they possess everything, do not really possess anything. In contrast, those who possess God, even when they are living in poverty, possess everything along with God. Those who possess God live in the riches of God. Those who possess God are the ones who possess eternal life and the kingdom of God. They are the ones who possess the authority of the name of Jesus and the key to the kingdom of God.
Thanksgiving is a choice. Life is made by the choices we make. Thomas Carlyle said, “It is simple to choose, but the result of that choice lasts forever.” Good choices beget good results, and bad choices beget bad results. Thanksgiving is a good choice. Therefore its result is good. Naturally, choosing thanksgiving doesn’t necessarily bring immediate change in things, but when you choose thanksgiving, you will surely see good results. Thanksgiving has no twilight season. Thankful people stand out. Thankful people are loved by God and others. Thankful people are bright and have a peaceful heart. Among the biblical characters, those who have experienced turn around in their lives are the ones who chose thanksgiving. Please choose thanksgiving in all circumstances. The discipline of choosing to give thanks in all circumstances is a very important spiritual discipline.
Thanksgiving is a habit. Life is made out of habits, and there are good habits and bad habits. Just as choices beget results, habits beget results Thanksgiving is a good habit. Thanksgiving surely brings good results. In order to form a good habit, we must understand the importance of good habits. In addition, in order to form a good habit, we must consciously choose and set our mind. More than anything, we must repeat it. Thanksgiving is a holy habit. Thanksgiving is a blessed habit that brings in good things. The importance of habit cannot be overemphasized. Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “Habits enable people to do all kinds of things.” No matter what the circumstances may be, choose to be thankful. Let thanksgiving be your habit. Give thanks when you wake up in the morning. Give thanks before you go to sleep at night. Always be thankful for the grace and favor you receive from God and others. Pray the prayer of thanksgiving everyday, and write a thanksgiving journal. I pray that thanksgiving overflows in each of your homes on this Thanksgiving Day. I thank you again for your love, encouragement, and sacrifice.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.