By Will Graham
We all have holiday traditions that are very important to us. For many years, the extended Graham family would gather at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, for Thanksgiving. We would have met together at a house, but my grandparents (Billy and Ruth Graham) had five kids, each of whom had kids. Eventually great-grandchildren came along as well. Before long, our group was far too large!
I look back fondly on those dinners: the family, the food, the opportunity to catch up and renew relationships, and a special time to express thankfulness and gratitude. Those were special days.
Life is different now. My grandparents are in heaven, I’m in my mid-40s, and two out of my three kids are in college. Thanksgiving means something different to me this year. At this point in my life, I’m simply excited to have my children home for a few days, enjoying each other’s company.
Do I miss the way it used to be, when my children were young and my entire family was together? Yes, of course. They call them the “good old days” for a reason.
It’s tempting to romanticize the past and grow sorrowful in nostalgia. However, King Solomon, whose “wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:30) had some guidance on the matter. In Ecclesiastes 7:10 he wrote, “Do not say, ‘why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.”“It’s tempting to romanticize the past and grow sorrowful in nostalgia.”
It’s been said that memories make us rich. And emotionally we have an amazing tendency to remember the good times while minimizing the bad. However, we aren’t to live in the past, but wisely move forward in the hope of the Lord.
First, we must show gratitude for not only the life we’ve lived, but also our current situation. Psalm 100:4-5 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”
God didn’t stop being good when your child went off to college, or when your father passed away unexpectedly. The Lord is as merciful and trustworthy now as before, and focusing on your hope in Him is far better than longing for days gone by. Perhaps you feel that today isn’t as good as yesterday, but don’t let yesterday’s nostalgia rob you of today’s blessings.
Second, as you call upon Jesus as Savior, the best is yet to come. I hope that you’ve had a wonderful life filled with incredible memories. The fact of the matter, though, is that we are merely on a journey through this world. We are not yet home.
Philippians 3:20-21 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to show gratitude for the days God has given you, the good times you’ve shared, and the memories you’ve made. But don’t stop there. Take a moment to ponder the blessings in your life today, and—most of all—the hope of eternity that awaits you in the presence of the Savior.
Your heart can be filled with God’s peace. Ask for His help today.
Will Graham is the Vice President and Associate Evangelist at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For more information on the BGEA, visit https://billygraham.org. This article was reprinted with permission.