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Psalm 116:1 – I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. (NIV)

Years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, my sister gave me a book which included a number of traditional stories, poems, prayers, recipes, and games. Some of the games looked rather interesting, and I thought that it would be a great idea for family entertainment after the meal. However, there was one game in particular, called "Essence", that caught my attention. The directions were simple: one player leaves the room while the rest of the group chooses a player who is to be described. Then the player who left the room returns and asks a number of questions to determine the identity of that person. Subsequently, all players, including the one being discussed, must answer each question. Afterward, based on those answers, the questioner tries to guess the individual's correct identity.

Applying the same principle, I wondered what word best describes the true nature of thanksgiving. How does God see it from His perspective? Does He recognize it in our daily lives? Reflecting on these questions, I believe the very essence of thanksgiving is love. Being truly grateful to God for the abundance of His grace and mercy must flow out of our love for Him. But the Scripture says: "We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19 NKJV) And love is the very essence of God. Therefore, we can give back only what He has already given to us.

This Thanksgiving marks one year since my husband had surgery to remove part of his kidney due to cancer. Throughout this trial, my family has had so much to be thankful for. From the beginning, I have seen God's mercy in action in ways which have made me more profoundly aware of today's Scripture. More importantly, every day is a day of thanksgiving, one in which, we, as Christians, can all experience the very essence of God through the gift and sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. May our hearts be truly aware of the marvellous things that He has done in our lives — not only today, but every day that follows.

Prayer: Father of all mercies, to You we lift our praise in thanksgiving for all that You have provided. May the essence of Your love revealed through Your Son, Jesus Christ, fill our hearts with gratitude as we celebrate this special day together with our family and friends. Nourish us with the fruit of Your Spirit which is "better than fine gold" (Proverbs 8:19 NIV) and the sweetness of Your truth which is better than life itself. In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.

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Lori Ciccanti <>
Ocean View, Delaware, USA

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