The American economy isn’t doing so well. A new poll shows that seven out of every 10 Americans now admit that rising prices are causing them to change their spending habits.

This is not good news going into the busiest shopping season of the year. Indeed, inflation has a way of putting a damper on our spirit of Thanksgiving. So, how do we prepare ourselves for the Thanksgiving holiday when things may not be going as planned?

Many people view the task of giving thanks as a kind of obligation they must fulfill once per year before filling their gullet with turkey and then spending the rest of the day watching NFL football on the last Thursday of November.  The operative word in that kind of attitude is the word “task.” 

Whenever Thanksgiving is viewed as a task, it usually gets done with heartless drudgery and forced discipline.

This year, I would like to challenge you to view Thanksgiving differently.  Genuine thanksgiving is a spirit of gratitude which comes from the heart and changes our perspective about the world as well as our own life’s circumstances.  A heart that is ungrateful produces a contrived heartless prayer of thanksgiving, but a heart of gratitude produces a sweet and voluntary heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving.

Changing the condition of our heart can be a very difficult thing to do. It is difficult because it requires honest self-reflection and self-evaluation. 

We become ungrateful because we secretly believe that we are somehow entitled to a better set of circumstances than what we currently have. Repenting of whatever bad thing we have done in the past, changing whatever we are able to fix for the better, and accepting whatever lot has been dealt to us in life, represent the first steps towards changing the condition of our heart.  Accepting what we are responsible for helps us to see how we have been blessed by others, and so gives us reasons to be thankful.

While anyone can become thankful, I believe that a truly genuine heart of gratitude is something that only God can give, and he gives it to those who earnestly seek him and who find him. This is a different kind of gratitude.  It is different because it is spiritual in nature. It is the kind of gratitude that results from knowing that one’s sins have been forgiven, that a person stands in a right relationship with the sovereign and righteous God of the universe, and that He is the ultimate source of every good thing.

It was this kind of understanding that prompted King David to write these spiritual words of gratitude in Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV), “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

God loves America and the USA is still the greatest nation on the earth. Remember these things as you give thanks this week. May everyday be a day of thanksgiving, and may God bless you richly. Thank you for reading my articles.

Steve Erdman represents dist. 47 — west of Lincoln County — in the state legislature. His district includes the town of Sidney. Contact him at Room 1124, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, (402) 471-2616, email: serdman@leg.ne.gov

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