Soon many of us will find ourselves seated around a Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, just as God has “seated us with Him in the heavenly places.” The word seated in this Ephesians 2:6 verse is past tense, meaning that “even when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ…” We didn’t have to earn a seat at God’s table. The point is God through His mercy and grace has already seated us with Him despite our past, present, and future waywardness. He extends this grace to us as His undeserving children. When we really think about it, we have abundant reasons to be “Grateful for Grace,” God’s grace extended to each of us around His heavenly banquet table.
Now consider our own Thanksgiving banquet tables. Many of us will gather (or not) with family and friends with whom we have relational, political, spiritual and cultural differences, perhaps even long standing offenses and roots of bitterness. May we be able to extend the same grace to others that God has extended to us. May we and our loved ones be “Grateful for Grace” as we love one another as He loved us.
The word grateful leads us to our next point of emphasis. In past writings, we have discussed the toxic nature of bitterness — the poison we drink to kill someone else — how messed up is that! We have asserted that forgiveness is the antidote to bitterness. Let me further assert that gratitude is also an antidote to anger, entitlement, and an ungrateful spirit. Forgiveness and gratitude go hand in glove, and are essential to resilient recovery from trauma and navigation of normal events such as Thanksgiving dinner with relatives.
Nancy Leigh Demoss’ twin books, Choosing Forgiveness and Choosing Gratitude are very encouraging and profound illuminations of God’s heart on these subjects. I strongly recommend them, particularly for those in the “bounce back” phase.
Nancy makes some powerful statements in her Introduction to Choosing Gratitude (pages 15-19). May we all lean into this attitude of gratitude as we are seated at our Thanksgiving meals.
“He (the Lord) has shown me how vital it is to train my heart to respond to all of life with a thankful spirit, even in situations and seasons that I find unpleasant or difficult.”
“I’ve seen that if I am not ceaselessly vigilant about rejecting ingratitude and choosing gratitude, I all-too-easily get sucked into the undertow of life in a fallen world. I start focusing on what I don’t have that I want, or what I want that I don’t have. My life starts to feel hard, wearisome, and overwhelming.”
“I’ve discovered that gratitude truly is my life preserver. Even in the most turbulent waters, choosing gratitude rescues me from myself and my runaway emotions. It buoys me on the grace of God and keeps me from drowning in what otherwise would be my natural bent toward doubt, negativity, discouragement, and anxiety.”
“It’s a choice that requires constantly renewing my mind with the truth of God’s Word, setting my heart to savor God and His gifts, and disciplining my tongue to speak words that reflect His goodness and grace—until a grateful spirit becomes my reflexive response to all of life.”
“To a significant degree, your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, as well as the health and stability of your relationships with others, will be determined by your gratitude quotient. Cultivating a thankful heart is a safeguard against becoming bitter, prickly, and sour.”
Nancy’s wisdom regarding gratitude is “on target.” The words of I Thessalonians 5:16-18 remind us “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is the way to keep bouncing. This is the way of truly resilient warriors.
Yes, Thanksgiving is an appropriate time to extend grace and to be thankful … along with the rest of the year!
So what about YOU?
Why is Thanksgiving important to you?
As you play “the glad game,” what is at the top of your list?
How have you found grace and gratitude to be antidotes to toxic emotions such as anger, guilt, false guilt, and bitterness?
Help us learn from you… tell us your story!
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