The Season of Transition

Nov 18, 2023

The weeks before Thanksgiving make me smile.

Yes, I’m happy to be anticipating the soon coming of our “high holidays,” but during these days I also get such a kick out of the mishmash of assorted outdoor holiday decorations. Driving down the street, you may see the remains of frozen summer flowers, shriveling jack-o-lanterns and other lingering Halloween decor (looking even more absurd), a few “Happy Turkey Day” banners, a bit of the red-white-and-blue, along with the efforts of giddy early-bird over-achievers who had their Christmas inflatables up on November 1. If Rip Van Winkle were to suddenly wake up during these days, he might have no clue which holiday is actually being celebrated!

I can’t blame people too much. They’re busy. What with yard cleanup, school activities, organizing food, toy, and mitten drives, Veterans Day, holiday craft sales, hunting season, and caroling practice … they just don’t have enough time in November to flip their entire front yard from Halloween to Christmas. Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle. More’s the shame.

‘Tis the season of transition. And it’s during transition, in the urgency of the moment, that things—often the MOST IMPORTANT things—get lost, broken, or forgotten. (Hold that thought.)

Earlier this year, I was struck down with a rare, potentially deadly, respiratory disease. For the long term, instead of staying on megadoses of prednisone, which “miraculously” took away my symptoms (the good news) but had very nasty side-effects (the bad news), my doctor suggested an alternative—a daily multi-step breathing treatment regimen. Though a bit fussy and inconvenient, the treatments effectively control my symptoms so I can breathe and function without coughing non-stop.

The disease I have, apparently, is incurable and will remain in my body permanently. The treatments are not a cure—just a stabilizer to allow my body’s immune system to deal with the condition. I must be diligent to do them EVERY day— whether I feel like it or not … UNTIL I am completely healed by the ONLY Healer.

We have diseases of the human soul: pride, greed, fear, bitterness, hatred, anger, lust, arrogance, and malice. As long as we are mortal, they are “incurable” and will continue to plague us. Of course, there is a conversion of the heart that occurs when we choose, through repentance, water baptism, and Spirit infilling, to turn our lives over to Jesus. But even before that can happen—and forever after UNTIL we are ultimately “healed” of our mortality—there is a daily attitude adjustment that helps to keep those diseases in control. Every day, whether we feel like it or not. It is not a cure for the diseases of the soul—but it is a powerful stabilizer that puts the flesh, by our own choice, under subjection to the Holy Spirit.

It is GRATITUDE.

Gratitude is the ACT of recognizing and acknowledging the GOD things and the good things that happen in life—the big, the little and everyday things, and even the things that may not seem good but are “for our good.” This act results in a state of appreciation, which, in turn, manifests in acts of kindness, goodness, patience, compassion, and love. Gratitude releases our hold on our bitterness, pride, and hatred. It overrides the power of selfishness. In fact, I believe, even before we CAN truly repent of our sins, we must first show GRATITUDE—when we GRATEFULLY recognize and acknowledge Who Jesus IS, that He alone is GOOD and able to save us.

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were THANKFUL …” (Romans 1:21 KJV)

One hundred sixty years ago this year, in the midst of the pain and destruction of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued his “Thanksgiving Proclamation.” He declared, “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and even soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”

Even back then, folks, who—though they were in the transition of war—had many reasons to be grateful, forgot.

During this season of transition, it’s the right time to pause … and refocus. It IS important that we take time—MAKE time—for GRATITUDE. We must NEVER forget that Thanksgiving is not a season; it is a way of life. Every day. Whether we feel like it or not. Gratitude is a choice; it is the deliberate regimen of the will and the mind that can ensure—almost GUARANTEE—our JOY in this Season.

Here is the prescription—EVERY day:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Prayer: “O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” (Psalm 30:12 KJV)