Thanksgiving Ushers in Peace!



When my kids were little, we spent many long hours traveling to the grandparents’ house for the holidays. In order to help our littles cope with the 6 or 10-hour trips (one way) they always packed a “busy bag”. Invariably, something ALWAYS got left behind and grandma would find it later. So I started making them create an inventory list of what they were taking. Then, as we packed to head back home, they used the inventory to make sure they had everything. It saved us MUCH consternation over the “I forgot my favorite ___” panic/meltdown.

Taking “inventory” is not a new concept by any means. In fact, it was actually a common occurrence in the Old Testament because they Israelites were a nomadic people. The articles of the Tabernacle had to be inventoried on the many moves to make sure each piece was accounted for (Exodus 38:21 – “This is the inventory for the Tabernacle …”). But God also instructed His people take an “inventory” of the ways He had blessed and cared for them. That’s a really good and healthy practice to keep. The Bible even gives as a list of 12 specific reasons we should give thanks which would make a great “inventory” sheet!

I have more to say about this inventory, but I want to shift gears for just a few minutes.

I love Christmas. I truly feel it is the most peaceful time of the year. But research shows that this is absolutely not true for millions of people. For a myriad of reasons, Christmas causes a tremendous amount of frustration, anger, violence, loneliness, and more. What causes Christmas to be peaceful for some but not for many others? I’m convinced that there are some very specific reasons that Christmas is a time of great peacefulness—at least for my family.

First is the fact that Christmas is a time in which we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:14). Those who do not recognize that this is what Christmas is really about are off on the wrong foot, for sure. But there are plenty who do understand the true nature of Christmas and still manage to miss out on the tremendous season of peace that it can be. I think there’s a reason for that which is also found in Scripture. Look at Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Those who know me know my distaste for our culture’s inexplicable rush to crank up the Christmas machine as soon as Halloween is over. I hear you: If Christmas is such a peaceful time, why shouldn’t we rush to get it rolling and extend it as long as possible? That’s a legitimate question. And here’s my answer: I feel like, from a theological/psychological point of view, the rush to kick off Christmas is too often accompanied by an improper shift in attitude, like skipping a grade, skipping in line, or skipping gears in a vehicle. Not ALL the time. Not EVERY person. But far too often. Far too many. The proof is back in Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians. Look at it again with some key phrases emphasized:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

There’s a very specific pattern here. If you first rejoice, offering prayers and petitions with thanksgiving, peace will follow.

In other words, a rejoicing, prayerful Thanksgiving precedes and USHERS IN a time of Peace!

Psychologically, symbolically, and even theologically, to focus on Thanksgiving sets you up to have a truly peaceful Christmas. When you essentially “skip ahead” to Christmas, you are inclined to miss the proper setup, the preparation as God intended. Now, that’s not to imply that the calendar arrangement of Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December is somehow divine, but it is fortuitous. It is a practical way to help you approach the birth of Christ with the right mentality, to help insure that Christmas is a season in which the Prince of Peace rules and reigns in your soul and in your home.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that God has instructed us to take an “inventory” of the ways He has blessed and cared for us. Now look at the next two verses in Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you” (4:8-9).

Notice the END of verse 8: THINK about these things. The Greek word is logizomai , which literally means to take inventory. Take inventory of the things for which you should give thanks and THEN the God of peace will be with you.

There is a divine order to things—rejoice, pray with thanksgiving, take inventory of all the good things God has done and then PEACE will come—and it just so happens that our holiday traditions match that order. I think that’s truly fantastic, and it is something for which I personally am VERY thankful!
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About Unknown

Brand strategist. Wordsmith. Change architect. Training specialist. DiSC Certified. Family guy (hot wife and 4 cool kids). Love my Bible, guitars, baseball, and MMA.

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