Gratitude Liberates

Gratitude Liberates

What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Perhaps, like me I immediately think of the years my entire family has been able to gather together and enjoy a delicious meal and uninterrupted time with one another.

While those memories are priceless, there is one Thanksgiving that taught me to be thankful like no other. While visiting some friends who serve God in an Islamic Republic I was fortunate enough to be with them over the day we Americans celebrate as Thanksgiving.

It was a bitterly-cold, snowy day when we gathered together in their warm home to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal. The room was full of happy voices and the smells of turkey, vegetables, pie, and baked bread. The scene was almost like a Norman Rockwell painting come-to-life. We surrounded the table laden with food with our heads bowed and a window view of the snowy city served as a backdrop. Young and excited children respectfully grew quiet as we stood around the table, joined hands and my gracious host gave thanks.

As he prayed, we were deeply thankful because we knew that there was no doubt that only God could have allowed us to experience this memorable time together. Consider our Thanksgiving meal, in America, stores are loaded with an overwhelming variety of food for the holiday. But in this secluded part of the world it was very different. It was no small feat that the lady of the house searched markets for weeks in advance in order to assemble the necessary ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Where she couldn’t find something, she improvised. I brought simple things from America like cranberry sauce, canned celery, and sweet potatoes. We enjoyed a feast that was rare in this part of the world. Thank You Lord!

…the hammer and sickle and statues of Lenin             were still prominent 

It was not only the food for which we were thankful. You see, just a few years earlier Americans, especially American Christ-followers, would not have been allowed to be in this great country because it was at the heart of the former Soviet Union. It would have been unheard of for Americans to live relatively free where the hammer and sickle and statues of Lenin were still prominent. Thank You Lord!

But what is even more amazing than the fact that we were serving Christ in the former Soviet Union is the fact that we were serving Him in an Islamic Republic! We knew it was a privilege to be allowed to be there so we were careful to obey all the laws of our host country, respected the beliefs of others, yet were still able to make many friends and introduce them to the One True God. God had opened the door and allowed us to obediently enter. Thank You Lord!

In our hearts we saw what God had done. We considered His provision. We were grateful for our health. We were in awe of His love and grace as well as the amazing opportunity before us. When my friend said, “Amen!” there was an echo from the rest of us.

God help us to be just as grateful as we celebrate this day of giving thanks. And wherever we may be, may we express our gratitude with a renewed commitment to sharing His story with those around us.

Be sure to share your favorite Thanksgiving memory by commenting below!





Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. 

-Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV)

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2 Responses to Grateful

  1. Dean Johnson says:

    Dear Mark,
    How I remember that same scenery and marveled at what a Savior we have! Thanks so much for inviting me along on that special trip to Russia. The experiences of delayed\rerouted flights and lost luggage were no match for the priceless airport welcome, the unique fellowship with Christ-followers in a distant land and the sharing of a common mission. I will always be grateful for these dedicated foreign missionaries, for our friendship and for the wonderful God we serve.

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