You might wonder about the title of this article if you're anything like me. You see, I struggle with portion control. So Thanksgiving can be a real problem for me. I'm guessing I'm not alone. I'm pretty sure that there are very few people reading this who limited their calorie intake to the recommended daily amount yesterday. And even though I'm writing this before Thanksgiving, I'm pretty confident that this will prove to be a true statement. I ate a lot on Thanksgiving.
But, you might say, "Turkey's healthy, right?" Not in the quantities I usually take, or covered with the gravy and combined with all that other good stuff. And of course, you have to try every kind of pie offered. You wouldn't want to insult the cook, right?
So is it true? Is Thanksgiving good for me? Well, while the food may not always be (although it is always good), Thanksgiving is most definitely good for us. That's what God's word says, and I'm guessing that you've already seen evidence of that plenty in your life. The section of God's word that I want us to give thanks for today is a section in Paul's letter to the Philippians where he gives us all sorts of reasons for rejoicing. He gives us the cure for stress and reason for thanks.
Philippians 4:4-8 "4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Think about what that section of Scripture means. God says not to be anxious. I know that is easier said than done, but God's word gives us the antidote to worry. That's what verse 6 said. Instead of being anxious, you can let God handle it. "In everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
By giving thanks even as you are asking for help, you're living the faith that holds to God's promises that he works all things for the good of those who love him. By giving thanks even as you are stressed, you're drawing your attention away from your problems and to the giver of every good thing. And the more we focus on the good, the less we'll be stressed by our problems.
Besides, God has already fixed your problem. He sacrificed his Son to give you eternity in heaven. With that certainty, no uncertainty of this life can shake you. Like Paul asked in Romans, "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
So even though Thanksgiving Day is over, thanksgiving is still good for you. Live it. You'll love it. And we'll see you on Sunday to join together to do it again!
In Christ, Amen.
Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.