4 Ways to Stay Thankful in a Consumeristic Society
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year.
Not only has the cold weather begun to settle in, but this holiday is filled with loving family and friends, delicious food, and the remembrance of how blessed we are.
But Thanksgiving also makes me sad. Not only are some people spending the holiday alone, but the very next day, Americans forget their blessings and go shopping during Black Friday sales. There’s nothing wrong with shopping the latest deals and trying to save money, but I see so many people buy things they don’t need, bringing more unnecessary stuff into their lives.
So much of our society is stuff. We as a country are so rich in possessions, yet we’re still unhappy and depressed. Thousands of people around the world live without enough food, water, or clothing, and yet they are far happier than we are.
The message to consume is everywhere: In magazines, books, TV commercials, boxes of food, or posters promising happiness through whatever is being sold. Especially as teenagers, we’re constantly being told that we’re not good enough and we need to buy products to make ourselves more appealing to our friends, family, and the opposite sex.
But the truth is that, no matter what, these things will never bring us true happiness. Instead, we need to steer clear of these messages and focus on being satisfied with what God has blessed us with.
Appreciate the Little Things
2 Corinthians 9:15 says, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” With schoolwork, jobs, responsibilities, and other activities, it can become easy to miss the small gifts in our lives. We have been given so much, yet we are blind to how blessed we are. Just the fact that we wake up each morning is enough to be thankful for.
God grants us so many blessings, but it’s up to us to notice them. Whether it’s someone paying your toll ticket to being able to walk down the street, there are hidden messages from God, telling us that He is with us. Appreciating these little blessings helps us to realize how much we’re loved by God, who is always providing for us.
Don’t Covet or Compare
One of the Ten Commandments that is often overlooked is “Thou shalt not covet.” If we’re constantly wanting what others have and comparing our success with theirs, we lack the peace and trust in God that he wants to give to us. The world challenges our human weaknesses, telling us to want more and more. To strengthen ourselves, we must ask God for strength against these messages and to be satisfied with what He provides.
Remember the Giver
Instead of dwelling on the gifts in our lives, we should instead focus on the Giver. God is the true provider of everything we have, and the choice is His whether or not to give us these things. As we read in the Bible, there are plenty of times He has chosen to take all worldly possessions from someone.
Thanking God for everything, from getting a compliment to a pay raise, brings glory to Him and reminds us of all He does in our lives.
Nothing is Forever
Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died, all of their belongings were carried with them into the afterlife. Of course, this is not true, and all earthly possessions fade away. Heaven stretches on forever, and our human existence only takes up a fraction of that length. Remembering that our worldly possessions won’t be in Heaven helps us see the big picture – that these things aren’t what matter in our world.
Although our society is focused on consuming and underappreciates the small blessings, we as Christians are called to be different. Even though it’s hard, we should focus on being satisfied with what we have and give to others. By recognizing our blessings, not wanting what others have, seeing God at work in our lives, and remembering that everything will eventually die away, we can fulfill our purpose here on earth, shining the love of God and spreading the Good News to others.