Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Things to be Thankful for This Holiday Season

  • Beth Ann Baus Crosswalk.com Contributor
10 Things to be Thankful for This Holiday Season

As we enter into the holiday season, it’s easy to look at those around us who seem to have it all together and be reminded of what’s lacking in our own lives. This can make it difficult to find joy and to have a spirit of thanksgiving. For many, the holidays are a dark season of depression and self-loathing.

Think of those with no family to celebrate with, the homeless, the incarcerated, or the shut-ins. There are countless reasons why someone might find the holidays to be more depressing than exciting, and any of these reasons can easily lead to a critical spirit, depression, and in the most severe cases, suicidal thoughts.

All of us, even those in the best of circumstances, carry some sort of hurt or disappointment that can cause feelings of dissatisfaction with life and feeling as if there’s nothing to be thankful for. Hopefully, the following list will help remind us that we all need to look beyond our circumstances to what we can and should be most thankful for.

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    1. A Place to Abide

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    As children of God, we are invited to dwell in Him and to abide in His love. This is something to be beyond thankful for! I believe this is how Paul was able to be content in any circumstance he faced (Philippians 4:11-13).  John 15:5 tells us that we abide in Him and He abides in us; apart from Him we can do nothing. Praise God for that perfect union!

    John 15:9 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” When we abide in Christ, by grace, He allows us to bear fruit. As we grow in the fruits of the Spirit we display more of the characteristics of Jesus. We should all strive to be more Christlike, and the good news is that this goal is obtainable and it starts with the blessing of abiding in Him.

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    2. A High Priest that Sympathizes

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    Have you ever looked at your life in a moment of despair and uttered the words, “No one understands”? The good news of the gospel tells us that there is someone who does understand. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

    We can argue that Jesus was never a husband, wife or a single parent, but Scripture doesn’t say that Jesus experienced every single situation that we’ve experienced. What it does say is that He was tempted as we are. He understands the trials of this life. What this means is that Jesus, who lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25), understands our weaknesses and talks to the Father about us on our behalf. That is something to be thankful for!

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    3. Freedom

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    It’s easy for us in the United States to take our freedom for granted. Most of us can’t even comprehend what our brothers and sisters around the world are going through when they are imprisoned, or even put to death for their faith. But praise God that, as His children, we have freedom in Him even if we are not experiencing freedom from our government. 

    Galatians 5:1 says,”For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” For the child of God, the freedom that we are given from the yoke of slavery - meaning the slavery to sin - is far better than any freedom we could hope for from our earthly authorities. This is something to be embraced and to give thanks for!

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    4. Our Mediator

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    Perfection and utter depravity have no place together, which is why God could not dwell with us humans in our sinful state. In other words, we would all be doomed if we tried to represent ourselves before God. Thankfully, we don’t have to! 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”

    As our mediator, Jesus represents His people, who are deserving of God’s wrath, making us blameless in His sight. Jesus also represented the Father, showing His great love for us, by bearing the wrath of God in our place. Being thankful for someone’s death may seem ludicrous, yet it was His death that satisfied God’s wrath and bridged the gap between us and the Father.

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    5. Prayer

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    As children of God, we are given the privilege of communicating with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and the Author and Perfecter of our faith! Praise God that in order to talk with Him we don’t need wi-fi or a strong data signal. We can talk to Him anytime, anywhere, completely unplugged.

    Unlike our friends on social media, God won’t scold us for our misuse of words or unorganized sentence structure. We don’t have to worry about God misunderstanding or misinterpreting our words. He invites us to pray to Him, Jesus lives to intercede for us, and the Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t have the words. This should bring us great relief and make us exceedingly thankful!

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    6. We're Not Alone

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    It sounds cliché to say we’re never alone because God is always with us, but nevertheless, it’s true. We read in the Old Testament about how the tabernacle was a restricted area for the Israelites because God’s presence was there and only the Levitical priests were allowed to enter. Thankfully, we are no longer under the old law and therefore, as children of God, we have direct access to Him.

    The Bible is full of references to God being our strength, our comforter, our shelter, and our refuge. The list goes on and on. What we can be thankful for is that we can, at any time, draw on His strength, find comfort in His Word, and know that no man can pluck us from His hand. We are, thankfully, never alone.

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    7. Forgiveness

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    Have you ever hurt someone and they refused to forgive you? What a terrible feeling! Praise God that He doesn’t write us off, give us the cold shoulder, or hang our mistakes over our heads. Instead, Psalm 37 gives us a beautiful picture of God’s heart towards His children: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

    1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This forgiveness came at a great cost, and is not something we deserve, earn, or are born into. Forgiveness should be at the top of our list of things we’re thankful for, and it should spur us on to give radical forgiveness, as it has been given to us.

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    8. Suffering

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    Romans 5:3-5 says, “...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    While our suffering can bring us to our knees, even to our deathbeds, we can rejoice and be thankful for the Spirit’s work in us and in knowing that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). This may seem easier said than done, especially when facing a debilitating disease, a failed marriage, or the loss of a loved one. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    9. The Holy Spirit

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    To me, a fascinating aspect of the Holy Spirit is that He dwells in us (Romans 8:9). But what does He do in us? As children of God, our bodies become a temple where the Father can dwell through His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). He speaks through us (Matthew 10:20), he reminds us of what we’ve been taught (John 14:26), and He convicts us of our sin (John 16:8).

    And as if that wasn’t enough, we are told in Romans 8:26 that “ the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” What a gift!

     

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  • 1. A Place to Abide

    10. Salvation

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    Even on the darkest days, when it seems impossible to find something to be thankful for, we can still look ahead with expectant hope to the salvation we were given through our Lord Jesus Christ! 1 Peter 1:1-5 is such a great reminder of this.

    “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”

     

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    Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a writer and blogger who pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression and OCD. Beth has a heart for women struggling with sexual sin and strives to encourage young wives and mothers by pointing them to the grace offered only by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You can read more about her at www.bethannbaus.com.