“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to thy name, O Most High; to declare thy steadfast love in the morning, and thy faithfulness by night.” Psalm 92:1-2
It’s Thanksgiving in America, and of course everyone is thinking about only one thing: TURKEY! OK, maybe not only one thing. We also are reminded to stop and think about all the things we have to be thankful for. Perhaps when you get together with friends or family this Thanksgiving, you’ll go around the table, read some sayings, or play some game, and share what you’re thankful for.
All too easily we utter some platitudes about being thankful for a roof over our heads or food on the table (all wonderful things to be thankful for, of course), then go back to the mashed potates and the cranberry sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as anybody to grab a fork and dig into the full Thanksgiving banquet. But perhaps there’s a bigger lesson to be learned in all of this. I would encourage you to ponder these three points:
- The practice of giving thanks is more than just checking off a mental list of things we’re glad we have. It’s an existential acknowledgement that everything we have is a gift from God. It is God Who has given us life, and it is only by His grace that we experience fullest riches of joy, of love, and of peace.
- By cultivating a lifestyle of thanksgiving, we enter into a spiritual dimension that invites greater blessing and fulfillment in our lives. The Bible says we are to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him, bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4) and to “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Why? For “God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) and “those who seek The Lord lack no good thing” (Psalm 35:10b). The great warrior-poet king David says “Take delight in The Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) The original Hebrew word translated here as “delight” is anog, which carries a connotation of almost giddy, playful happiness. When we find our happiness in God by giving thanks to Him in everything, our hearts are blessed with righteous and noble desires that God is only too pleased to fulfill.
- Finally, the state of being thankful is like a filter that begins to clear out the mud of selfish or confused thinking and places our attention squarely on the things that really matter in our lives. I personally find myself getting bogged down in the mess of my own ambitions, and when I’m there all I see is what I’m still missing. The future just looks dark — it’s as if the lenses of my vision have become cloudy. But then, when I begin to praise the Lord and give thanks, I can see clearly again. The lenses have been cleaned and my vision restored!
I’d like to close by saying I truly hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. I don’t know what you’ve been going through or what a rough time you may have had this year. But I can tell you that there’s always something you can find to be thankful for. Or be preemptive: I’m thankful next year is going to be easier and more profitable! (I’m saying this in faith, of course…)
All right, enough sentiment. Go grab a turkey leg and I’ll fetch the stuffing. Happy Thanksgiving!