The Battle of Thanksgiving

Our modern Thanksgiving in America is a great time to change our focus from the “daily grind” of work, or school. It’s an opportunity to reflect on God’s provision and grace over the last year. But have you ever noticed an odd shift after the dinner plates are cleared and a family member finds the bulging stack of newspaper ads? This holiday can suddenly turn into a battle of temptations and wills. If we aren’t careful, the rapid transition from Thanksgiving dinner, to Black Friday morning, can set the stage for the entire holiday season. How ought we to navigate this as Christians? As a product designer, I’ve wrestled with that very question. But ironically, the holidays may provide the very answer to this struggle of materialism. 

Every thing has a maker. Although, this may seem an obvious statement, it is something we often take for granted. Fruit has a heavenly maker - managed by a farmer. The computer you sit at, as well as the chair you sit on, the coffee mug you drink from; each of these products has a maker. The later examples have human makers. However, each creative thing a person makes is a small example of how God is the ultimate creator. Even if the created object is a very small, and perhaps broken reflection, seeing that bigger picture can help us reflect on our Father. Just as God has created the amazing world we live in, we have been gifted with the ability to create from our Heavenly Father.  

Many times we can over glorify these manmade creations, but that doesn’t mean the products themselves are bad. In fact, there is worth in appreciating a well designed object. True, the feeling of need we experience when considering a product can be rooted in greed, or covetousness. However, our desire for wonderful and perfect things can actually be attributed to our Creator, God. When he created the world, he created all things good. Our desire for beauty and flawless design stems from Him. But we need to be able to recognize the motivation in our heart when we begin feeling those desires for a new, or better product.

 The spirit of thanksgiving is about turning our eyes toward God as the gracious Giver and sustaining Father. What turns us into materialistic people is our belief that products can complete dissatisfactions and disappointments we experience in life. The answer to this lie we choose to believe, isn’t to stop buying, or admiring well-made products. Instead, it is in the daily practice of thanksgiving. This exercise of thankfulness reminds us of all the Lord has provided and promises to continually provide. Suddenly, we realize the deep meaning in the statement “the Lord is my portion”. Regardless of the newest, greatest product on the market this Thanksgiving, the Lord is far more able to provide for our needs. He is the only one who truly knows our need. For the depth of each of our need is Himself, and Himself alone.

The commercial world will be trying to pull at our heartstrings all November and December, but we have a freedom in Christ to live differently than the rest of the world. In Christ, our sinful, materialistic hearts are made complete. Our needs are met. For our God is not a manmade product. Look to heaven. Our riches are of a different kind. For they are found in Christ alone.