January to November has been a long stretch. We've seen a lot of things happen, some good and some bad. From bombings overseas, Brexit, and the Summer Olympics, the passing of Harper Lee, David Bowe, Prince Rodgers Nelson, Muhammad Ali, and Gene Wilder as well as the ever-tiring, and gruesome presidential debate that led to Donald Trump becoming the President-Elect. It has been a long year already for everyone. The Thanksgiving holiday marks the beginning of the "holiday" season. It is during this time of relaxation, reflection and jolly that studies have also shown mark a rise in alcoholism, depression and suicides. These points can usually be attached to some traumatic event, chain of events or situations that arise. No matter our station in life, we all experience low points. When we find those spots, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the issue or situation and become consumed by it.
I, with the Apostle Paul, present an alternative to being overwhelmed and that is taking time to consider the day. What do I mean, you may ask? I'm glad you did ask. The day is Thanksgiving. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Many times during this weekend we will tell about all the things that we are thankful for, but never really acknowledge where we are in our lives. It could be that we are really still dealing with the loss of a loved one, or maybe the loss of jobs. We could be having some difficulties in our relationships or whatever the case may be. It is when we place ourselves in an honest place that we can experience hope and build faith despite the situation. When we give thanks in every situation we acknowledge the faithfulness of the divine in the fact that things can always be worse, but they are not. Though things are not ideal, they are better than they could be.
This Thanksgiving, be thankful for what you have and who you have, but also be thankful IN everything. Acknowledge the greatness and goodness of God. Take a moment to remember where you were in your life last year, five years ago, or even 10 years ago. There may be some things that you wish were the same, or not. One thing is true, you are not the same person you once were and you're not in the same peace in your life as you were and it's because of divine grace that you are where you are. More than family, possessions, and food, reflect on what could have been, what really should have been, and without grace, what would have been. While we pray for healing on tragedies, they have not hit our homes. While we stand in solidarity with people around the world, we were not directly affected. For those who now deal with recent loss, you were blessed with the life, legacy and memory of those loved ones that will remain with you forever. Though times may occasionally seem hard, things are as well as they are and that's more than enough to be thankful for.
As we enter into the season of Advent, the season of expectancy and waiting allow for your expectation to be seasoned with gratefulness and thanks. Remember to do good, do no harm and stay in love with the Divine.
Rev. E. Chip Owens is a graduate of the Gammon Theological Seminary on the Historic Campus of the Interdenominational Theological Center. He has served as a Senior Pastor in the Covington Area. He is a well sought after preacher and Author that has had the pleasure of sharing the gospel nationwide.