Thanksgiving is all about what we ourselves are thankful for, but what about what everyone else is thankful for? As kids we’re asked to list things we’re thankful for, as adults we’re told to express our thanks to those who help us, but is being thankful really that self-centered? Is it all about us? Are we just thankful that things go our way or are we truly grateful when things go well for others?
It can be challenging for us to accept, let alone celebrate, the good things that happen to other people, especially if we don’t think that person is particularly deserving. When the crooks, the cheats, the liars and the stealers get away with their crimes we’re not happy, but when they seem to just receive good things in response to the shameful ways they live it’s enough to drive a person crazy. Maybe it’s luck, or maybe it just looks like they’re getting all the good stuff, when the reality is that that’s the only good that they have in their lives, but because that’s the most public aspect of their lives it certainly seems like life is really unfair.
The tough lesson to learn is that everyone has things to be thankful for as blessings and good things don’t always see people the way that we do. It’s a lesson that’s not just about the blessings of life but about the grace and forgiveness as well. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, and sometimes we make decisions that we probably shouldn’t have made but we felt like that was our only option at the time, and perhaps it was. It’s a challenge to honestly celebrate the promotion you wanted that someone else got. It’s also a challenge to accepting that God forgives us and those around us when mistakes are made. It’s almost too hard to grasp sometimes, especially if we don’t feel like we’re worthy of forgiveness, or the other person is.
But that’s really what Thanksgiving is about; it’s about coming together to celebrate with each other. I may not be thankful for what you’re thankful for, but I can be thankful for and with you. Just because it’s not my victory doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate equally with you. It’s when I let those doubts, fears, and old prejudices sneak in that I start to judge and compare, and struggle to celebrate with you.
This week I challenge you to be honestly happy with one person who is celebrating something in their life. Just let loose and celebrate life the way it was meant to be lived: together.
“It is delightfully easy to thank God for the grace we ourselves have received, but it requires great grace to thank God always for the grace given to others.” James Smith