“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul …”
–1 Peter 2:11 (NKJV)
Sitting on the edge of her bed, the grandmother savored a rare time of quiet. The kids were all out of the house, and she cherished these few minutes alone, slowly paging through the scrapbook of her mind.
Make no mistake about it–her children were her treasures, and she thought about each one individually. Robert had always been the more studious one, and he was always somewhat withdrawn. His brother, David, was another story altogether. He could be a real handful at times. But they had both grown up well under her care.
Then, as though they had a will of their own, her thoughts changed. Remembering dinner, she got up.
“I’d better put the finishing touches on things before everyone comes home,” she thought.
A few minutes later, her granddaughter came skipping in.
“I know Thanksgiving will be great, because the food looks delicious, and I’m hungry!”
Once they had the holiday meal on the table, everyone dug in, and the room grew so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. But as the plates of food were being passed again, somebody jovially reminded them all, “Everyone save room for dessert!”
Then everyone laughed, and listed all the things they were thankful for.
However, Monday found most of these same people pulling their hair out. The rent and bills had to be paid, and they didn’t even want to think about Christmas shopping.

In light of this story, my first question for all of us is this: What happened to thanks-living?
Thanks-living can only happen when we decide to count our blessings with God’s help, even when it’s difficult. Instead of viewing the giving of thanks as a daily priority, we make it a special one-day event, and we have compartmentalized it by viewing thanksgiving as just another holiday.
Instead of concentrating on turkey and football, thanks-living comes when we focus on having genuinely thankful attitudes. We can always stand in God’s strength, finding the wisdom in His Word to face whatever we are going through. When we don’t do this, however, we tend to live our lives on the roller coaster of feelings, rather than being fastened to the anchor of blessing.
Like a boat that isn’t tied to the dock which is only found in Jesus, we tend to drift, moving away from the cross. We may have known the simplicity found in the gospel at one time or another, but now many of us have drifted into the sea of pressure and anxiety. This leads us to the next step, when we no longer see ourselves as pilgrims and strangers in the world.
Just to name a couple examples, we can become tied to the dock of materialism or success, and our boat becomes laden down with things that we don’t really need. Then, when we face a trial or storm on the see of life, all the stuff we depended on fails us. Many times, when we’re traveling an especially dark road, we cry out, “Where is God? He seems to be silent!” But the real question might be, Where are you and I in relationship to God?
In order to discuss that, we need to examine the concept of being a pilgrim from God’s point of view. According to Jesus, we are in the world, but not of the world. However, Peter explains the same concept in another way. He says that according to God, we are strangers and pilgrims here.
Imagine that you are traveling in a foreign country. While you find it quite interesting, you might also find it frustrating if you don’t know the official language. Things that you once took for granted now seem impossible, because you can’t communicate with anyone.
In the same way, the world has its own language, much of which is centered in hopelessness and despair. If you don’t believe me, just turn on the news, or check out the headlines on Twitter or Facebook. The world says “I can’t,” and everyone throws up his or her hands.
Unfortunately, however, followers of Christ are often just as guilty. Instead of saying, “I can do all things through Christ,” we tend to give up at the drop of a hat. When we do this instead of depending upon God, I call it pilgrim’s regress.
God asks each of us to come out and be separate from people of the world. He wants His followers to communicate in the language of blessing and praise.
But when things don’t go my way, this often isn’t the case. God asks me to trust Him, and know that He has my best interest in mind. But I am often like the man who is hard of hearing because he won’t turn up his hearing aid. God wants us to listen to Him, and allow Him turn obstacles of frustration into opportunities of elevation, no matter how challenging they may be.
One of my favorite places to go when I am feeling down is the book of Acts. Here, Paul and Silas were not only in prison, but trapped in stocks. As if that wasn’t awful enough, they had also been beaten. Yet at midnight they sang, not to get something, but to give glory to God, who threw their prison doors wide open.
Today, if you don’t know Christ, turn to Him, and let Him change you into a new creation. Instead of only setting aside one day for a thanksgiving holiday, thanks-living can become a lifestyle if you choose to learn God’s new language of praise.
Christians, instead of reserving your thanks for one day alone, let’s sing about what God has done for us, and all of the blessings we enjoy. Become a person of joy, and you will be amazed. For when you praise Him simply for His Glory, He can still shut doors that no man can open and open doors, that no man can close.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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