Summary: Thanksgiving reminds us to choose a life of praise and thanksgiving. A life of praise and thanksgiving means the difference between a life of optimism or a life of pessimism.

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Finding and Keeping Joy in a Joyless World

Psalm 100

As we approach a day set aside for national Thanksgiving God’s Word reminds us that we need to give God heartfelt thanksgiving. Thanksgiving from your heart is the way to find and keep joy in your life.

On December 4, 1619 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Plantation, on the James River near what is now Charles City, Virginia. This group memorialized their arrival with a day of thanksgiving to God. The pilgrim’ first official proclamation of a “Day of Thanksgiving” was a follow-up to a day spent in fasting and prayer for rain instituted by then Governor William Bradford. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Heavenly Father.”

Thanksgiving helps you to focus on the good and positive things in life rather than on negative and dark things.

John Haggai in his book, “How to Win over Worry?” Tells about a lady that attended the first church where he served as pastor. She was 29 years old and looked like the advance agent of a coming hurricane. She enjoyed poor health. Her house was in turmoil and her general appearance looked like an accident going to happen. She would come to the worship service and shake the pastor’s hand and it was so limp Rev. Haggai said he felt like handing it back to her. He would ask her: “How are you?” and she would spew out her life woes. He quickly learned not to ask her that question. But he said when he took her hand he really shook it and would give her his best smile and look her in the eye and say: “You look so much better. You must be feeling better today.” Within a few months she actually began to look and feel better. Why? Because her attitude of negativism was changed to optimism.

The story is told of two farmers. One was a pessimist, the other an optimist. The optimist would say, “Wonderful sunshine.” The pessimist would respond, “Yes, but I’m afraid it’s going to scorch the crops.”

The optimist would say, “Fine rain.” The pessimist would respond, “yes, but I’m afraid we’re going to have a flood.”

One day the optimist said to the pessimist, “Have you seen my new bird dog? He’s the finest money can buy.” The pessimist said, “You mean that mutt I saw penned up behind your house. Didn’t look like much to me.”

The two went hunting with the dog the next day. They shot some ducks. The ducks landed in the pond. The optimist ordered his dog to get the ducks. The dog obediently responded and instead of swimming in the water the dog walked on top of the water, retrieved the ducks, and walked back on top of the water with the ducks.

The optimist turned to his friend and said, “Now, what do you think of that?” The pessimist replied, “Hmm, he can’t swim can he?”

Thanksgiving reminds you to choose a life of giving praise and thanksgiving to God. The Apostle Paul gives this instruction in I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

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