Thanksgiving during good and bad days

by Mark McDonald

Have you ever had one of those days? One of those days that you wish had never happened? A no good, worthless, bad day?  

Me, too. Or so I thought.

Several years ago, I was having just one of those days, and it was the day before Thanksgiving. Cynical doesn’t even come close to describing my mood; I was pretty sure that nothing good could happen. Because I was with my extended family and didn’t want to talk with anyone, I went for a walk along a walking path. Wouldn’t you know it, it started to rain when I was a good distance from our lodging. “Figures,” I said out loud. As I walked along, I passed by several scripture plaques, ignoring them because of my bad attitude. Then, I saw one sitting in front of a bench that looked off the beaten path.

I can’t tell you why it made me want to go to it, but I suspect it was just the way it was just a little out of the way. In spite of the rain, I decided to go further away from the lodging and toward this scripture plaque. What did it say?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a, CEB).

I scoffed. I could not understand how I could show any kind of graciousness while my world felt like it was falling down around me. It was as if God was expecting more of me than I could give. I turned to walk back in anger and despair. I prayed out of frustration, and argued that I could not be expected to show fruit of the spirit given all that I was struggling with. “How could I possibly be nice when I feel like this,” I prayed.

As I walked the trail back toward our lodge, I noticed yet another out-of-the-way scripture plaque. I walked over with the hope that I could find a “better” scripture given my situation. That’s when I read the answer to my prayer, self-centered though it was:

“Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand” (Ephesians 6:13, CEB).

I couldn’t believe how two seemingly unrelated scriptures could address my situation so directly. God wasn’t going to give me a pass on being nice because I was having a bad day! I was still supposed to live my faith in a way that showed that daily struggles can’t break me.

I had to stand strong, and I had to do so by putting on the full armor of God. 

I immediately went back to my room and pulled out my Bible to read more from Ephesians. I thought of the ways I could put on truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word like the scripture tells us to do on “evil” (bad) days. And wouldn’t you know it, when I did that, I started to find something that was really important this time of year: gratitude, no matter what the world brings.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, largely because of that day. I have been challenged to live in the fruit of the spirit by putting on the armor of God. I learned that gratitude it something we can have every day, no matter what the day throws at us. I learned that gratitude is not just having a good day. It’s having a good attitude and knowing that we are to live to a higher standard, and daily struggles can’t take away the promises that God gives us. We show gratitude by living in a way that shares our thanks with others, through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Imagine how much more powerful it is when we show those traits on a bad day! It’s life-changing. It’s world-changing. And it’s yours!

May you find a way not only to be grateful on good days, but each and every day you have. And may you find ways to share that gratitude with others as we make the world a better place for everyone!