Happy Hearts

“Each person should give what he has
decided in his heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves
a cheerful giver.”
-2 Corinthians 9:7

THE SEASON OF THANKSGIVING IS HERE and should be a time of incredible joy and happiness, for truly we are a blessed people.  We live in a land of incredible opportunity and bounty, and as Christians God has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). 

How do we say “thank you” for incredible blessings such as these?  The simple answer, though not so simply demonstrated, is . . .

to live each moment with a spirit of boundless gratitude, always aware that every blessing we enjoy is the undeserved outpouring of our generous, compassionate heavenly Father.  The apostle Paul describes this kind of gratitude as expressing itself through “cheerful” giving.  The word “cheerful” that Paul uses can also be translated “hilarious.”  We should be so overwhelmed by the magnitude of God’s generosity to us that we are left speechless and giddy; so much so that it expresses itself in free, exhilarating giving with no remorse. 

This was how the Macedonian Christians gave in response to hardships the church in Jerusalem was facing, who “out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2).  This should be the way we give also—of our heart, our talent, our time, our energy and our resources.

The first Thanksgiving, from which our national holiday was born, occurred in the autumn of 1621 following a brutal winter nearly a year earlier, in which many of the first pilgrim settlers lost their lives.  The survivors forged a relationship with the neighboring Native Americans who taught them how to hunt, fish and raise produce.  The result was a bountiful year of produce and a shared meal with the Wampanoag Native Americans for their kindness and generosity, and to Almighty God, the true source of all goodness and blessing.

Generations later, Sarah J. Hale, a tenacious magazine journalist, was deeply troubled by the deep and painful divide within our nation that led to the Civil War.  She campaigned tirelessly through letter writing to politicians, believing that a national day of Thanksgiving would go a long way in healing the hateful, bloody divide within our nation.  Her efforts were rewarded, and Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863 by proclamation of Abraham Lincoln following the Battle of Gettysburg.

Since that time, our celebration of Thanksgiving has devolved from one of deep gratitude to Almighty God for His grace, mercy and bounty, to one that revolves, almost exclusively, around family, leisure, parades, sports and shopping.

With a new and ugly political and worldview divide blighting our nation, it is time we once again remember the source of all our blessings and the One who alone can heal the national wounds we feel.  It is time we truly count our blessings, naming them one by one.  It is time that we loosen the cords that often bind our hearts and let generosity and goodness flow out of a cheerful and giddy heart for all that God has done.  We (the Church—the Body of Christ) are the primary vehicles God has ordained to bring healing and blessing to the world.

It begins with us realizing the blessing of God in our own lives and responding in appropriate expressions of gratitude. 

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