We may have passed the day of Thanksgiving, but I think the holiday season is a prime time to live out the act of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving: the expression of gratitude, especially to God. (source)
This time of year is generally filled with discussions about what we’re thankful for. I know at my family Thanksgiving dinner we each shared what we were thankful for and it was encouraging to hear everything that was said. It’s a great tradition and one I think we should all practice.
I was reminded a few days ago that, as we age, we are faced with the added baggage of hurt. From our past as well as from the present. It caused me to think about the things that keep us from thankfulness. Not the obvious thankful list, but the kind that the Lord desires us to have, like the peace that can come from mended relationships.
Maybe it’s the stress of the season or that in combination with travel, going home, being around family members, or any number of things, but fractured relationships run rampant in life and at holiday gatherings. Maybe it’s a relative, a friend, or a co-worker, and something has caused a split between you. Can you relate to that? Is there someone like that in your life?
I know we’ve all heard the commands to forgive one another, but I wonder if we put forgiveness into practice or just acknowledge that it’s a good thing? Do we know what true forgiveness looks like? Do we put it into practice with those around us? A lack of forgiveness hinders our relationships as much as (if not more than) it hinders us.
In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about forgiving others as the Lord forgives us. That’s a huge task, one only accomplished by power from the Lord, but it is possible with His strength.
It’s the burden of my heart for us to be at peace with one another, not just in the season of peace leading up to our celebration of Christ’s birth, but all of the time, just as Paul talks about in Romans 12:18 when he says to “live peaceably with all” where possible. Sure, we’ll disagree and yes, we won’t get along with everyone all the time, but take some time before the hectic nature of the holiday season catches up with you and ask the Lord if there is anyone you haven’t shown true forgiveness to. Are you harboring bitterness against a family member you’ll see at Christmas? Will you try and avoid “that co-worker” at the company Christmas party? What about the issue you haven’t forgiven your spouse for?
Take these next few weeks to practice forgiveness and watch how it will transform your life. Then thank the One who makes that forgiveness possible!