Blessed. Thanksgiving weekend this year is nothing like I expected. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Many of us have lost loved ones this year. Some have lost their livelihoods. Others are suffering from emotional or physical effects from lockdowns. Our country seems more divided than it has in perhaps 150 years. In all of this, how can we possibly celebrate Thanksgiving?
For several years, there was a cashier at a local grocery store in town that used to puzzle me. I would approach her register, put my food on the conveyor belt, and greet her. “How are you today?”. I was always cheerful when I said this. “Blessed”, was always her response.
But she didn’t say the word “Blessed” as you would imagine. She would never make eye contact with me. She only looked straight ahead with blank expression on her face. “Blessed”, was delivered in a monotone voice. Almost a sigh. It was like she had been programed to say the word.
My internal reaction was always the same. I would think to myself “You don’t sound like you think you are blessed. You sound like this is just something you think you should say.”
More Than A Saying
And as she began to scan my groceries, she rarely looked down. She just began sliding the items past the scanner. She reminded me of an animatronic at an amusement park. Programed to make one movement, and say one line. There was no variance in her routine, her actions or her “line”. “Blessed”, seemed all she was capable of saying.
I always wondered where she picked up that saying. Was it drilled into her at home? Did she learn it at Church? Was it just something she felt she had to say? I never found out.
And I’ve noticed the same phenomenon this year. There are many people celebrating Thanksgiving that don’t seem thankful. The idea that we should or could be thankful now seems inconceivable to some. But I disagree.
You see, being thankful should not be a reaction to what we have. It is an attitude. An attitude of thankfulness.
There are several studies that link an attitude of thankfulness to that of happiness. In other words, those that are the most thankful are the happiest. And believe it or not, the people that are most thankful don’t always have more things than people who don’t. Many times it’s the exact opposite. Those with the least material things are the most thankful.
As Christians, we are blessed. We understand that when we talk about giving thanks, we are directing our thanks towards someone. We are not thankful to inanimate objects. Rocks and cactus don’t receive thanks.
We have been redeemed by the Almighty God. This alone should give us reason to be thankful. And our gratitude should be genuine. Simply sputtering out a halfhearted “Blessed”, just won’t do.
I am not suggesting that we flip the other direction and become disingenuous. People will see through a fake smile as quickly as they will see through an uninspired “blessed”. Everyone mourns, has a bad day or just gets in a funk from time to time. But on balance, we need to recognize how truly blessed we actually are. We are blessed. And we should always remember that!
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