“Give thanks with a grateful heart” goes an old chorus, the Bible says give thanks to the Lord (1 Chron.16:8). We do that here in Canada in October and our American friends do it in November. That usually means getting the family or some semblance of family together to eat too much turkey. We’re thankful for a good spread and that people could make it and then we move on to the usual pace of life and forget. A brief pause in an otherwise petal-to-the-metal existence. But that’s not where our focus should lie.
When you look at the origins of Thanksgiving, going back to an agricultural society where it was tied into the harvest, it had a lot more immediate significance. They were thankful for the food that would keep them going through the depths of winter and more importantly for the God who provided it. Today we are thankful when we find a good deal on a turkey at Zehrs but often forget the same God who gave us the abundance of choice.
Has the idea then of Thanksgiving become unfashionable? Is it, dare I say, even redundant and in need of being jettisoned to the scrap heap? Can we connect anymore with the intent like our forefathers did?
I think we can.
Though we no longer hunt for or grow our food that doesn’t mean each year we can’t pause to give thanks for the bounty we have. We have so many things to be thankful for, so many blessings. We have not only the opportunity of food choices but even more, peace and prosperity in this land. Though we fear many things it seems (hurricanes, terrorists, politics) little of them become reality in our lives here. Instead we enjoy a stability of life many in the world cannot even imagine.
Count your blessings, give thanks. In fact 1 Thessalonians says: give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thes. 5:18) seeming to raise the stakes.
What about those who are suffering right now? …who’ve experienced economic difficulties…who’ve suffered tragedy and loss…who’re wracked with pain or disease? What can they possibly count as a blessing?
A few things.
One, that there’s a purpose even in their suffering and loss. We may not understand it but there’s a God in charge who will use these things for His glory, eventually revealing the purpose. Daniel was a man well acquainted with the mysterious ways God works. Taken into slavery, elevated to high office, falsely accused and imprisoned, he still had a spirit of thanksgiving. He wrote: “He (God) reveals deep and hidden things, he knows what lies in darkness. I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers… there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Daniel 2:22-23, 28).
Still not enough? In the end He will make it right, everything will be sorted out, what has happened was not random, was not unnoticed and will be remembered. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow (Phil 2:10 ), the dead will be judged according to what they’ve done (Rev. 20:12) and there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain (Rev.21:4). How can you not be thankful with that in mind?
If you didn’t already, take time, stop, ponder, maybe even meditate, on the blessings in your life, count them, name them and then give thanks for them. Doing this may not only make your day, but it could change your life!
Psalm 126:3 says the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Give thanks, with a grateful heart, because He’s given Jesus Christ the son. This is more than a catchy tune but something that could change your life! Yes, give thanks.