Giving Thanks for Our Freedom
This past year has been one of trial and difficulty for Americans. Many have lost loved ones to the virus that has taken our nation hostage. Many have lost their source of income, and the social withdrawal from friends and family has wreaked havoc on our emotional and mental well-being.
With the upcoming celebration of Thanksgiving, many are wondering, "What is there to be thankful for?" Pain and suffering, self-pity, and feelings of being victimized by the injustices of the earthly world in which we live have left many feeling less than thankful! In addition, there's the commercialism of Halloween and Christmas. Thanksgiving, the holiday designated to show gratitude to the Source of all our blessings, is dying of neglect.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul urges the church at Thessalonica to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Paul is not telling them to be thankful for everything but to be thankful in everything. It is more than adopting a positive attitude; it is acknowledging that even in the worst of circumstances, God has not abandoned His children and will use all of life’s circumstances—good and bad—to grow us in our dependence upon Him and knowledge of His love, grace, mercy, power, and sovereignty.
The most important thing we have for which we can be thankful is our freedom—not just our freedom as a nation to worship as we so choose, elect our leaders, choose how to live our lives and our pursuit of happiness, but the freedom from the bondage of sin that Jesus spoke of in John 8:32 and made possible through His sacrificial death on the Cross! It is this freedom of soul and the resulting relationship and intimacy with Almighty God, made possible through His death and resurrection, that is the basis for our gratitude no matter what we may face. Jesus did not promise a trouble-free life, but He did promise to be with us in the midst of our afflictions and that promise remains. May we pause during this Thanksgiving season to reflect on what our freedom cost—both in our personal salvation as well as a nation—and be thankful and worship God for His bountiful blessings to us.
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18
Thank You, Lord, for freedom,
From the penalty of death for my sin;
For the grace to honor You with my life,
Through the power of Your Spirit within.
Thank You for the freedom,
From guilt and deep despair,
Over sins that have long been forgiven
When first confessed to You in prayer.
Thank You for the freedom,
To live in a nation that is now free,
From dictatorship and bondage—
Something many nations do not see.
Thank You for the hope that is ours,
For worldwide freedom and peace,
When Jesus comes to claim His own
And all wars and battles will cease.
© 2017, Doris Haver Rouse
For additional thoughts and poems on being thankful, see Reflections of Gratitude and Praise.