"Rejoice in the Lord always... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Happy Thanksgiving! I just wanted to start out the column today with God's word for you about thanksgiving. You read what he said about thanksgiving being a great stress reliever in Philippians 4. You saw that it makes God happy when we're thankful. And you know that when you are thankful, you have a better perspective, life is more fun. So give thanks. That's what this whole holiday is for, isn't it?
Have you noticed that Thanksgiving is becoming something of a lost holiday? A lost art, actually. It seems we as a nation are starting to forget about Thanksgiving. The store displays seem to transition right from Halloween's witches and goblins to Christmas trees and St. Nick.
And before you know it, even the Thanksgiving meal will be lost and we'll be looking at that big meal just being good carb-loading for some hard work shopping the next day - or even that night. After all, you need a good meal to have energy for a full day of shopping on Black Friday.
Think about all the blessings you have, even the things you so often overlook. I think of Sept. 10, 2001. Do you remember that day? What was it like? It was a Monday. What were you doing? Was it a day you complained the weekend was over and you had to go to work? Was it a day nothing good was on TV and we were bored? We probably don't remember, but we can guess that most of that was probably true.
And then Tuesday came and the news of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers rocked our nation. And suddenly, we looked at things a little differently. That day our heroes went from being athletes to rescue workers.
On Monday, we were annoyed that our paychecks were so small. On Tuesday, we gladly gave money to people we had never met.
On Monday, we were upset we had to wait five minutes in a fast food line. On Tuesday, we stood in line for hours to give blood for the dying.
On Monday, we argued with our kids to clean up their rooms. On Tuesday, we couldn't get home fast enough to hug them.
On Sept. 10, life was routine and boring. On Sept. 11, it was a cherished gift. On Sept. 12, we were thankful for what we had. And do you remember how big a deal Thanksgiving was that year? Sadly, over time, with so many blessings every day, that spirit of thanks fades away and is replaced by expectation...which only leads to disappointment.
Don't let that happen. Think of all you do have to be thankful for. And that starts only here in God's word. Before any amount of health or money or family - our primary need was a Savior. We were born in sin. We wrestle with sin. We lose, again and again. But Jesus won. Paul asked, "Who will rescue me from this body of death?" And then he answered: "Thanks be to God! He gives me the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Thanks be to God. Instead of the hell I deserve, I have heaven coming. Instead of the guilt I should carry, I bear forgiveness. Instead of the fear and dread with which I should face God, I hear him telling me through Paul: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
So now, without guilt, without fear, without stress - we can take an honest look at our lives. Deserving nothing, we have everything. Thank God. And not just on Thanksgiving Day - but every day.
Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at abidinggrace.com.