I recently started a new Bible reading plan (basically what happened is I was supposed to be paying attention in class one day, but, instead, I browsed Google in order to make a list of as many Bible passages about prayer as I could and now I’m going through one passage a day and praying over it—senioritis is real, y’all).
The first passage on my list ended up being 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
And I was instantly convicted.
Because—especially in this season of Thanksgiving—I have not been as thankful as I should be.
And America has not been as thankful as we should be.
With the recent elections and all of the civil unrest, we seem to have forgotten all that we have to be thankful for in regards to this great nation. There is so much negativity circling the media and even everyday conversations. Everyone has a different opinion on what should have been done to make America great again, but very few of those opinions are helpful in the least.
But you know what has been proven to change things? Thankfulness. Because, even if we don’t change the minds of our government officials, or the protestors, or whatever else you’re unsatisfied with these days, thankfulness changes you.
So, please, friends, pause with me for just a moment this week and remember what we have to be thankful for in the good ol’ US of A?
1. FREEDOM TO PROTEST
Now, I won’t lie to you—I don’t agree with the majority of protests going on in this country. And, frankly, a lot of times I think that protests aren’t very effective (especially how they’re being conducted these days). But I’m thankful that we live in a country where we have the right to stand on street corners and march through cities for what we believe. And this leads to something else I’m thankful for—
2. FREEDOM OF SPEECH
This isn’t just the freedom to say whatever we want and demand that people respect it “or else,” but rather, this is the freedom to be heard. And, while I worry about freedom of speech when I think about the future of America—especially where Christianity is concerned—I am thankful that, here in 2016, I have the freedom to stand up for what I believe and the freedom to voice my opinions (even if me having that freedom means that those I disagree with have that freedom as well 😉 ). And, along with that, I’m thankful for something else too:
3. PEOPLE STANDING UP FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE
Do I agree with a lot of people these days? No. Do I wish a lot of the people voicing their opinions would just shut their mouths for once? Absolutely. And do I wish that more people would take the time to actually be well-informed citizens before spouting off about this or that? You bet your bottom dollar I do. But you know what? I’m thankful that, even though I often disagree, people are standing up and speaking out for what they believe. Because, even if they are wrong, “you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”
4. LAW ENFORCEMENT
I know this is controversial, especially for those who are minorities or live in areas were law enforcement violence is running rampant. But, people, we need to be thankful for those who are literally putting their lives on the line every single day, not knowing if they will return to their families or not when the day is done. And, for that matter, I’m thankful for the families who let their loved ones serve and protect such ungrateful citizens! I’m thankful that we have more good than bad officers in the long run, and I’m thankful that these men and women have chosen such a noble and often thankless job. (I’m also thankful for those police officers who have let me off with warnings when I deserved a hefty speeding ticket—you’re the real MVPs! 😉 )
5. FREEDOM TO VOTE
I’m thankful that we live in a country where we have the civic duty to cast our vote for the officials who take office in this great country. I’m thankful that every legal citizen is free to cast their vote—men and women, black and white and every color in-between. I’m thankful that we are so heavily encouraged to be informed and to let our voices be heard.
6. A NEW PRESIDENT-ELECT
(yes, we should be thankful for this too, no matter what you’e thinking right now…)
I’m thankful that our country has elected someone to step up and lead in our country. Even if you don’t agree with who won the election, you should be thankful that we have this freedom to change out our leader every four years to prevent an abuse of power. I’m personally thankful that our president-elect is not afraid to be different from the politicians of the past several decades, and i believe it will be interesting to see where the future takes us as a nation.
7. GOD IS IN CONTROL
This is what I am most thankful for in our country today. So much hurt, anger, and violence is being reported by the media these days that it can get difficult to see God at work. (Does good even still exist?!) But God is at work, even when we are blinded by negativity. I’m thankful that God chose to use the drunk, the elderly, the daydreamer, the liar, the ugly, the abused, the stutterer, the scared, the womanizer, the prostitute, the young, the murderer, the adulterer, the suicidal, the fool, the widow, the runner, the bankrupt, the worrier, the persecutor, and even the dead to fulfill His plans.
If God chose to use such people as these throughout history, I have no doubt that He can use the defiant protestor, the authoritative police officer, and even the blunt and vulgar president-elect. Because, to doubt the capability of these people and their ability to change is to doubt God’s power.
But I’m thankful that God doesn’t change who He is, just because my faith is small and wavering.
What are YOU thankful for this Thanksgiving week? I would love to hear it!
Happy Thanksgiving, Friends.