It’s one of the most overshadowed holidays on the calendar. Sandwiched between the ultimate candy feast of Halloween and the pomp and pageantry of Christmas, Thanksgiving to many is simply the day before Black Friday. Like consuming the obligatory green vegetable before you earn dessert, many view Thanksgiving as what you have to get through to get to the good stuff. “Thanksgiving is boring,” teenagers gripe as they anticipate the awkward small talk with out-of-town relatives over candied yams and fried turkey.

That thanksgiving is boring is one of several myths I’d like to debunk today, in honor of one of my favorite holidays.

Myth: Thanksgiving is boring.

Truth: Only if you're an ungrateful wretch.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

Myth: Thanksgiving began with the pilgrims.

Truth: King David instituted a day of thanksgiving, complete with special food for everyone, singing, dancing, and special prayer on the day he brought the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem. The Israelites had a feast of meat, date cakes, and raisins (See 1 Chronicles 16). He composed his first psalm on this occasion, a song of thanksgiving. His goal was to "give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness."

Myth: Thanksgiving is only for Christians.

Truth: Thanksgiving is for everyone who lives on God's earth, breathes God's air, and is the benefactor of every good and perfect gift that comes from God. God sends the rain on the just and the unjust, and it is fitting for everyone to give him thanks. Christians should be the most thankful, however, says David, "Let the whole world know what he has done" (I Chronicles 16:8).

Myth:  Thanksgiving is all about God.

Truth: Thanksgiving is all about me. Or it should be. God doesn't need my thanks, but I need to give it.

  • I need to give thanks to remind myself from whom all blessings come. If I don't, I begin to get the crazy idea that I'm the source of my health, my talents, my possessions, my family, and my job.
  • I need to give thanks to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, instead of entitlement.
  • I need to give thanks to unseat the "little i am" (me),  and allow the Great I AM (God) to rightfully sit on the throne of my life. This is called submission and humility.
  • I need to give thanks to fulfill the will of God for me. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Myth: We celebrate Thanksgiving to thank God for all the good things with which he blesses us.

Truth:  We celebrate thanksgiving to thank God for loving us. Everything else is gravy.

Pastor/Teacher Craig Barnes puts it this way: “Being thankful is not telling God you appreciate the fact that your life is not in shambles. If that is the basis of your gratitude, you are on slippery ground. Every day of your life you face the possibility that a blessing in your life may be taken away. But blessings are only signs of God's love. The real blessing, of course, is the love itself. Whenever we get too attached to the sign, we lose our grasp on the God who gave it to us. . . We are not ultimately grateful that we are still holding our blessings. We are grateful that we are held by God even when the blessings are slipping through our fingers.”

Myth: Thanksgiving should be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

Truth: Thanksgiving should be celebrated every day of the year. "And he (Jesus) took the bread, broke it, and gave thanks . . . do this in remembrance of me" (Matthew 26:26).

So when you sit across the table from your out of town relatives this Thanksgiving, eating the obligatory green vegetable before you consume a plate full of dessert, will you join me in lifting our voices in thanksgiving to God? Because when we focus on God and not ourselves, Thanksgiving is anything but boring.

“Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights— His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:3-7)

Matt Redman - 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) (Official Music Video) from matt-redman on GodTube.

Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and her freckle-faced, four-footed boy, Winston. A homeschool mom for 17 years, she’s the author of the devotional book, Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms (available from Amazon.com). You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time.

Publication date: November 27, 2013