This is supposed to be the Thanksgiving column, and notice I did not say Happy Thanksgiving! (It is also published later than Thanksgiving!) It is more important to do something rather than be feeling a certain way. I just Googled it, so it must be true) that Lincoln said people are “as happy as they make up their minds to be.” It is an act of the will. Now, that is easier said than done. There is much to be unhappy about in the lives of people in the Valley. We have unemployment, divorce, drug addiction, kids without a clue, moral decline, and of course the election outcome. The list is longer, but you get the point.
This column is entitled “give thanks,” because being happy is a decision we make every day or we decide to have other feelings. God’s word in Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Wow! So even though today, I experience a death, divorce or disability, I should be happy? No, it was not a mandate to be happy, but telling you what to do about your situation. How does it profit you (or anyone else) to get down? It is OK to go through a slump, but don’t stay down. God’s grace does allow us to choose a range of emotions or behaviors, regardless of our situation.
If we give thanks, we are choosing to be thankful, which is what I learned many years ago, from many people who lost everything, as the “attitude of gratitude.” It is very easy, every day to pull out the negative notes from your noggin and choose to feel bad. That is one way to play, but is not a good plan for your mental health. The attitude of gratitude encourages us, when we begin to think Grrrrrr! we change it to gratitude. You don’t like your house, be glad you have a roof. If you are disappointed in you financial situation, be grateful for the food in the frig. Disappointed in your kids, be encouraged that they are alive and can change their lives to something better. Hate the heat in the Valley, be glad that this too shall pass.
If you think about it, why do we pray before dinner? If you were like most people in the world, a meal is never guaranteed. We should be grateful and offer thanks every time we grub. We in America have had such a good life for so long, we take too much for granted. As a result, if the traffic backs up five cars, or we have to wait in line at Wall-Mart and we get grumpy quick! It is good to pray, and pray often. Couples, who pray together, have a 90% chance of staying married, because daily prayer, not only helps you be thankful for your imperfect spouse, but you immediately become a helper in his or her struggles.
This article is too late for your Thanksgiving dinner, but every day deserves thanks and prayer. Our country is facing a future with some frustration. Rather than getting down, I encourage you to look up. Give thanks, and have a grateful heart. You can begin right now. I will pause while you quietly give thanks for at least three things in your life………………You did it! Now don’t you feel better than you did a few minutes ago? If you chose to not pray, well, you prove my point (and Lincoln’s): People are as happy as they choose to be. Today, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving, give thanks with a grateful heart!