Philippians 4:10-20 (NIV)
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The original plan for the first Thanksgiving, held in the fall of 1621, was to celebrate a successful harvest with three days of fasting. The pilgrim of Plymouth later decided to invite the Wampanoag tribe, who had helped them secure their footing in the New World, to join them for a feast instead.
Today, Thanksgiving weekend is also a three-day event. It begins on Thursday when some of the most eager stores open up early for Black Friday. Then, of course, there’s Black Friday proper and finally Cyber Monday. Three days of shopping, splurging, and shoving. Sandwiched in between is the turkey feast, but it’s difficult to recognize the spirit of those first pilgrims in our celebrations.
It’s estimated that there were only five women present among the fifty or so at the first Thanksgiving. Most of the women, along with the many men and children, had died, either on the voyage over or during that first winter. Yet those who survived gave thanks to God, recognizing His goodness despite their monumental losses.
This type of thankfulness and contentment is exactly what Paul describes, “whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul discovered that Jesus plus nothing is just as satisfying as Jesus plus everything. Either way, there’s cause to be thankful.
As we move into our Thanksgiving holiday, I would like us to consider two questions:
- How was Paul able to be thankful even while in prison?
- What are some things you are grateful for this Thanksgiving?
A.W. Tozer once said, “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and not be poorer, but richer for having made it.” I agree with that 100%. Gratitude does not have to be dependent on our situation or our current financial status. Giving gratitude will always bring us up from wherever we find ourselves or whatever we find ourselves in.
I want to wish you and your families the very best this Thanksgiving holiday season. Don’t eat too much. Don’t watch too much football. And certainly don’t spend your whole weekend shopping. If you get a chance, take a moment and think back to the very first Thanksgiving and what it was really about. Let’s get back to more of what that first celebration was like. If we can do that, we can have a true Thanksgiving this year.