There is something that humanity is afflicted by, no matter your age, race, gender, religion: Marketing.
The sad thing is that this isn’t even just something that you get from big companies trying to sell their products. This is something that comes from friends and family and foes alike.
“Dude, if you haven’t tried this place you haven’t lived.”
“This one product makes everything easier.”
“You should travel here. The sights are beautiful!”
At the core of all marketing is this one simple message. “If you don’t have what we’re selling, you won’t be happy. Your life is less than complete until you’ve gotten this. This will make life better if you have it or if you see it or if you go there.” And you know what? It works.
There’s a sad juxtaposition to be found in the fact that the holiday of Thanksgiving is right next to the informal holiday of Black Friday and a few days before the relatively newer Cyber Monday. No sooner have we given thanks for what we have in our lives, are we as a country rushing out to camp out somewhere in order to add to the list of things that we own. If only Thanksgiving were less a holiday, but more a lifestyle!
Being thankful shouldn’t be something that we feel when we get something or when things are good, it needs to be a state of being. It needs to be an attitude. In the best of times, it needs to be the thing that reminds us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17 ESV). In the worst of times, it needs to be the things that reminds us that we need to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2 ESV). I would argue that in both situations, it’s so often for us to lose sight of God and to focus on our situation. We are not thankful to God in the good times as much as we should be because we’re enjoying it too much, and we’re not thankful to God in the bad times because everything sucks. What could there be to praise God for when everything sucks?
But thankfulness is not about the situation. Thankfulness is about the attitude. Thankfulness is about your focus. Thankfulness is about seeing the blessings that God has given you and to let that be what drives you.
In Acts 16:25, we find Paul and Silas in prison cells that would make a dusty, cobwebbed corner of a parking structure look comfortable, and what were they doing? Praising God and converting everyone! Their hearts were not affected (that much) by the situation, allowing them to see the bigger picture that God had called them to. What is it?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Thankfulness is an attitude that we can have when, instead of looking towards all the things that we don’t have, to instead focus on the things that we do, especially on the most important thing that we all have. God.
So let’s be thankful, looking to the things that we have, looking to the blessings we’ve been given, and praising God for all that we have.