On Sabbath we took a break from our “Stronger” series on 2 Peter, to pause and consider “The Thanksgiving Diet.” This diet isn’t about food, but about laying aside every weight—the weight of depression, the weight of anxiety, and the weight of fear—through the sacrifice of praise.
The first ingredient in the Thanksgiving Diet is abundant light. What light therapy does to counteract the darkness of fall, giving thanks does to counteract the darkness of the soul. God gives us the therapy of thanksgiving to fight back against cynicism and discouragement. First thing in the morning we need to “give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His mercy endures forever (Psalm 118:1). Giving thanks is how we push back against the darkness.
Next, eliminate distractions. Rewind to Philippians 4:6-7. The word “anxious” in the NIV is “careful” in the KJV. The original Greek means, “to become distracted” (same as in 1 Peter 5:7 and Luke 10:41). Anxiety is the result of being distracted by worries.
Here’s how the text reads in the Amplified version: “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Amplified).
When negative circumstances drive us to distraction (anxiety), prayers of thanksgiving cause us to regain our focus on the goodness of God, and the goodness of God produces what no pill or psychologist can—peace that passes understanding. That peace consists of 3 things: 1) assurance of salvation through Christ, 2) no fear, and 3) contentment regardless of the circumstance.
The Thanksgiving Diet is most effective when you include a fast—not a fast from food, but a fast from self-pity. When thanksgiving replaces self-pity, you lose the weight of worry.
Eliminate distractions by encouraging others. Encouragement is the next ingredient in the Thanksgiving diet. Rewind to 1 Thess. 5:14-15. Just like you wouldn’t prepare your turkey in the bathroom, you can’t begin to live God’s love in an atmosphere poisoned by hate. Encouraging others clears the air and removes the distractions of bad relationships that disturb our peace.
Paul now lists three key ingredients in the recipe:
- Be joyful always; (vs. 16)
- Pray continually; (vs. 17)
- Give thanks in all circumstances (vs. 18)
Again, the Amplified version shows that these are to be continuous, ongoing actions. “Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (Amplified)
This is the kind of rejoicing; the kind of praising; and the kind of praying we’ve got to have to beat the devil today—determined and continuous. Don’t stop the diet! You can’t be a yo-yo dieter on the Thanksgiving diet. Stick with it!
What happens when you’re tempted to say “No Thanks” to thanksgiving? Give thanks anyway! For the Thanksgiving Diet to work, timing is everything and the time to begin is always NOW. Give thanks Now! Don’t wait for the sun to shine or for the fig tree to bud, or for the bills to be paid, or for the pain to stop hurting. Give thanks now.
Giving thanks is how we wait on the Lord. We don’t wait on circumstances to change before giving thanks, we wait on the Lord by giving thanks now and He changes us. Don’t wait on circumstances; wait on the Lord.
The last part of the Thanksgiving Diet is exercise. For the next 7 days, designate a chair in your home, the “Thanksgiving Chair.” At least once a day, sit in that chair for a minute or two, and for as long as you choose to sit there, think of something to be thankful for. That chair is your misery “time out.” You cannot think of your troubles while sitting there. It is your space and time to give thanks to the Lord for his goodness to you.
Remember, it is our choice how we approach thanksgiving. Be joyful always. Pray continually; and give thanks in everything…now! From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! –Pastor Randy