Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love the turkey and mashed potatoes, family connection, and the football. Most of all, I enjoy the reflection times during the day when I’m reminded of all of the good things God has done in my life.
There is just something about Thanksgiving that brings me hope for future provision, intervention, and transformation because of the past testimonies of how God worked things out in such amazing ways.
I find that it is easy to find reason to give thanks for what God has done in the past, but sometimes I find it difficult to give thanks in advance when I am facing the COW’s of life (challenges, offenses, and weaknesses).
Thanksgiving enables us to face our present realities in light of the promise of future breakthrough.
The reality is that many people are facing some difficult circumstances this Holiday season. While many are rejoicing, there are also many who are feeling hopeless, given the emotional, relational, physical, financial, and spiritual obstacles in front of them.
A Thanksgiving Perspective
In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus is teaching a multitude of people all day long in a remote place with no access to an In and Out Burger or Chick-Fil-A. All they have is a little lunch from a little boy, who has 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread.
The disciple’s perspective is that there is not enough...
Many people tend to look at what they don’t have, instead of focusing on what they do have. When we are only willing to give thanks for what we see in the present, we will never have enough in the future.
When we focus our attention on the lack, we are setting ourselves up to receive what we see — not enough. Breakthrough comes when we focus on what is possible as we partner with God, our Provider, in which nothing is impossible.
Jesus set the example of the power of thanksgiving when he gave thanks for what He had, even though it seemed to everyone else like it was not enough.
Jesus looked at the little lunch He had been given, gave thanks for what he had, and He ended up with more than enough. We’re told that every person was able to eat until all of them were satisfied, and afterwards, the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of leftovers!
Positioned For Breakthrough
Interestingly, Jesus had just taught His disciples that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Matthew 13), which being the smallest of all garden seeds, grows into the largest of tree in the garden. Jesus then demonstrated this principle of increasing breakthrough in the feeding of the multitude.
The reality is that the Kingdom of God increases in our lives when we are able to give thanks at the beginning of the process, when we only see a little lunch worth of breakthrough.
During this Holiday season there are many who need major breakthrough in various ways in their lives. Current circumstances may seem overwhelmingly impossible, while others have been contending for a long time with no breakthrough.
In times of crisis or prolonged adverse circumstances, it’s easy to focus on what we don’t have, leaving us with a sense of hopelessness.
When we are able to focus on the measure we have, and giving thanks for what we have, we are positioned for increasing measures of breakthrough.
Most of us are accustomed to giving thanks after we receive breakthrough, which is appropriate. But notice that Jesus gave thanks before the breakthrough.
He had experienced Father God’s provision in so many other ways throughout His life that He could trust in the goodness of God to care for Him and His followers in the present crisis.
Jesus positioned His heart to be thankful, mindful of the past testimonies of breakthrough, which gave Him confidence in the face of new challenges.
Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul was so adamant about giving thanks. He knew that thanksgiving was a key ingredient for breakthrough.
“…By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God…(Phil. 4:6)”
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18)”
“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything (that you have received), in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:20)”
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17)”
Likewise, David and the Israelites practiced thanksgiving, and experienced miraculous breakthrough over and over again. Thus, he promises that,
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God (Psalm 50:23)”.
Over and over again throughout the Old Testament we find the phrase,
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever (Psalm 106:1; Psalm 107:1; Psalm 118:1; Psalm 136:1; 1 Chronicles 16:31)”.
When we are able to focus on the goodness of the Lord, we are able to trust that He will work everything out for our good. Our thankfulness, then, becomes an expression of our faith in God’s ability and desire to meet our every need according to His available resources.
Thankfulness Precedes Breakthrough
I’ll never forget the time I prayed for a 70-year-old woman who had a cancerous lemon-sized tumor on the top of her foot that continuously throbbed in excruciating pain.
She explained that her and her husband had travelled a great distance by car, hoping to receive healing because the doctor had scheduled a surgery to amputate her entire leg the following week.
When her husband removed the oversized booty, I was shocked to see an open-sore, gooey tumor, and almost vomited at the grotesque looking sight. And then, I heard the Lord say, “Touch it”. I immediately responded, “No way, that’s just too gross”. Once again, the He said, “Kevin, touch it because I want to heal this woman, just like I healed the leper in Mark 1:40-42”.
At that promise, I was filled with so much faith that I knelt down and placed my entire hand over the squishy, open sore tumor, knowing that as I did, a miracle would take place.
As I began to release the presence of God over her, she began to sway back and forth, while her entire body shook, as the power of God seemed to penetrate every cell in her body.
After a few minutes, I asked her what she was feeling in her body. She began to describe the incredible peace she was experiencing, while she continued to sway and shake under the intense presence of God.
When I inquired about the tumor on her foot, she responded, “I don’t know about my foot, but this is the most incredible peace I have ever experienced”.
I began to verbally thank God for the peace this woman was experiencing, and soon, her husband who was standing behind her, began to sway and shake in unison with her.
After a few more minutes, she announced that the level of peace had increased significantly. When I asked about the condition of her foot, she again responded, “I don’t know about my foot, but this peace is unlike anything I have ever encountered before”.
It would have been easy to fall into the perspective of not enough at that point because while peace was a great comfort in her current crisis, it wasn’t the miracle breakthrough I was hoping for.
Instead, I encouraged her to go back to her hotel room, and continue to give thanks for the peace she was experiencing.
A few weeks later, I received a letter from her, thanking me for encouraging her to thank God for the peace she had experienced as I released the presence and power of God over her tumor.
She went on to explain that she had sat up all night in the hotel room giving thanks for the peace, as her and her husband watched the tumor continuously shrink throughout the night, until it was completely gone the next morning!
When she went back to the hospital upon her return home, the test results revealed that there was no longer any cancer in her foot, and the surgery was obviously cancelled.
I believe this miracle breakthrough occurred because we decided to give thanks for what we did have, even though it was less than we wanted to have.
When we can focus on even a little lunch-sized measure, giving thanks for what we have in the moment, it prepares the way for miraculous breakthrough.
Let’s be those who give thanks for what God has done in the past, but also remember to give thanks for even the seemingly insignificant amount presently have, knowing that God’s presence and power is at work in our Thanksgiving to bring about the breakthrough we are hoping for.
In light of God’s goodness, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Let me know when your breakthrough comes, so that I can rejoice with you!