Why Thanksgiving is more important today than ever before

We need the Thanksgiving holiday today more than ever before! Did you know that the life expectancy rate in the United States is actually decreasing each year? This is an alarming statistic that was just released this week by researchers in the Journal of American Medical Association. Anytime life expectancy decreases it should make the American people take notice.[1] However, it’s the cause for the decrease in life expectancy that should create the greatest concern. Young Americans, in the prime of their life, are dying because of suicide, drug overdose, and hypertension.[2] All of these factors indicate a genuine dissatisfaction with life in America.

When we spend our day on social media looking at all the good things that everybody else enjoys, we forget about all our many blessings. Watching home improvement TV shows aren’t bad in and of themselves, but if you’re not careful they may make you long for a new kitchen or want to move to a new neighborhood. We have many things for which to be thankful. Even though Thanksgiving is a one-day holiday, we need to remember the blessings of living in this great country every day of the year. It’s often the simplest blessings in life that we take most for granted.

God knew that we needed to set aside time to give thanks. In fact, he commanded us to give thanks in the Bible. Maybe it’s because God knew how quickly people focus off of the many good things that he wrote, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”[3]

Better than Black Friday

At the risk of dating myself, I remember when Black Friday was only on Friday.  There was a day when stores were closed on Thanksgiving. People would spend all day long with friends and family on Thanksgiving. They would watch football games after the big Thanksgiving meal. They would stay up talking and reminiscing on Thanksgiving. Then, at the stroke of midnight, they’d wake up headed to the local shopping malls for Black Friday deals.

Many stores refused to open on Thanksgiving because they wanted their employees to spend that day with their family and friends. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe that store owners are trying to push Thanksgiving into obscurity. I believe they open earlier every year because they want your money. When every department store is offering huge Black Friday deals, a way to get a leg up on their competition is by opening the store a couple of hours earlier. Shopping malls and online retailers seem to offer their deals earlier every year. Go ahead and shop ‘till you drop this Black Friday, it’s even OK to start shopping on Thanksgiving Day, just don’t let the Black Friday deals push out the significance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Spend your time with friends and family before you spend your check shopping this Thanksgiving.

Christmas is coming earlier

Every year it seems to me like we’re putting up the Christmas decorations earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Christmas holidays. However, by putting out the Christmas decorations earlier each year it feels like we’re pushing the Thanksgiving holiday to the background.  Decorate your Christmas tree and hang the Christmas lights as early as you want, just don’t let the preparation for Christmas cause you to lose sight of the significance of Thanksgiving.

Let’s go back to this Bible verse for just a moment. God commands us- it’s not a suggestion- because we need to remember the good gifts that he gives us. The spin up to Christmas, Black Friday deals, or your friends Instagram vacation pics can cause us to forget how good we have it. That’s what makes this a holiday so special. Thanksgiving is really not about Black Friday or Christmas lights… It’s about faith and family.  This Thanksgiving focus your thoughts on the good things that you have. Recite or write down the blessings that God has given you and you might be surprised at just how much you have for which to be thankful. 

Maybe life really is difficult for you right now. Maybe you really are struggling this Thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6 challenges you to place all of your needs before the Lord and trust him to meet your needs. Basically, the Bible is telling you that you can lay your head down tonight in peace, knowing that God is big enough to handle your greatest challenges.  The Bible is offering peace this Thanksgiving. That’s a gift that you can’t put a price tag on.

[1] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2756187?guestAccessKey=c1202c42-e6b9-4c99-a936-0976a270551f&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=112619

[2] https://www.livescience.com/us-life-expectancy-decline-working-age.html

[3] Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), Php 4:6.

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