By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, 28 November, will be here soon. Thanksgiving Day in the United States was inspired by the Pilgrims who came from England and Holland to the New World in 1620. They had a very difficult voyage. Getting established on the rocky shores of New England was hard. Many died of disease or near starvation. They planted their crops; harvested their first produce and set a festival of Thanksgiving to God. Relatively speaking they had little, but were grateful to God for his provisions.

Thanksgiving has God in view. It is very important for us to express our gratitude to God. We need to learn how to be thankful, and to deliberately practice being thankful. We do this because it is right. We become happier, better people when thankfulness becomes a prominent characteristic in our lives. The scriptures encourage us to be thankful people. We might ask what is in it for us? Why not curse and grumble and complain? One answer is that we waste our energy and lose our focus when we engage in such foolishness. We may wrongly focus on the mistakes and failures of others or we may (whether directly or indirectly) be blaming God. Some ask, If God is all knowing and all powerful, why does he not take better care of us?

The Pilgrims understood that God does much of his work through willing people. He teaches and gives us wonderful and marvelous opportunities—if we have the eyes to see. He gives us gifts and abilities that we may serve and honor him and be a blessing to others. He wants us to be strong, able, and biblically purposed in our living. One way of saying this, from a human perspective, is that he gives us the raw materials and, then, waits to see what we will do with them. We are responsible and accountable. We cannot live life well without our Savior. The Pilgrims found themselves up against difficult times, and they turned to God praying for his help–his guidance–his deliverance. He answered their prayers and enabled them to get established in a new and difficult land.

When we talk about Thanksgiving, what is our frame of reference? That is, why are we thankful—what are we thankful for—and to whom are we to give thanks? Is gratitude a good thing or should we gripe and complain about what we do not have, rather than being grateful for what we have? It is important to discern between what we are thankful for and what we should not be thankful for. We cannot call everything good. The Apostle Peter: “Save yourselves from this crooked

What are some things for which we should give thanks?

• We should be thankful for who we are: for the life that God has given

• We should praise God for who he is: that he gives us wonderful to us; and for the family of which we are a part knowledge of his greatness—his holiness—his power—his majesty

• We should be grateful for those who have instructed, inspired, and set  an example.

• We should thank God for the useful and worthwhile provisions that he a good example before us gives to us; for home and warmth and food.

If you need a boost in giving thanks, read Psalms 103 and 104. These great Psalms help us to increase our understanding of thanksgiving.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you. More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs. ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!