Dr. Bernie Cueto preached a great sermon this past Sunday on Thanksgiving. He reminded us that we should be thankful whether we feel it or not. Our Thanksgiving is based on the facts of what God has done and is doing in our lives, not on whether I happen to feel thankful at this moment.
Thanksgiving based on facts instead of feelings reminded me of the old Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) illustration of an 1800’s steam train. I love this old train illustration with its steam engine, coal car, and caboose. The basic idea is that our salvation (the very basis of what we are thankful for) is driven by the “fact” of what God has done for us in Christ. The fuel comes from our “faith” in Christ. Our feelings are pulled along by the fact of what God has done.
In fact, in the old days the caboose had the guy who was in charge of the brakes. I have found that feelings function best in that role. Feelings are often very good at putting the brakes on something. How many times have I had “a bad feeling about this” and it put the brakes on something and kept me from making a mistake.
Whatever other roles feelings have, they belong behind facts and faith. How silly to imagine the caboose pushing the train! Feelings should follow, not lead. We shouldn’t allow our feelings to drive how we act, including during this time of Thanksgiving. Actually, I have found that feelings usually follow my actions.
If I act based on the facts of what God has done for me, (grateful) feelings will trail along. There is an old quote, “It is easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action.”1 We need to stop waiting for thankful feelings to well up in us before we speak thanksgivings.
Whether or not we feel thankful at this particular moment, there is something (and often many things) for which to be thankful. Thankfulness is a decision we can choose to make.
This Thanksgiving, make the extra effort to express to God, family and friends how thankful you are. It’ll be good for your heart.
1I’ve heard it attributed to Elton Trueblood but I can’t find the original source.