As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to give some thought on observing this special holiday. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it doesn’t get as cluttered with the materialistic presents that can often overshadow Easter and Christmas. I love the more simplistic celebration of giving thanks, and the onus to give thanks is good for my soul.
Giving thanks is appropriate and honoring to God. David exhorted people saying, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34). We are to live thankfully to God just as surely as he has dealt lovingly to us.
Giving thanks is the celebration of the perceived blessing in your life. It is the awareness of the grace God has bestowed on you, and that blessing is to be celebrated even when there are other circumstances that are not ideal. Giving thanks reflects a satisfaction and happiness with what has been received. It perceives that there is good, and that the boundary lines in your life are both pleasant and fallen in delightful places (Psalm 16:6). Giving thanks involves recognizing the blessing and giving praise. We celebrate that provision. We give praise for what has been done. Praise for the goodness of it. Praise for the intent of it. Praise for the extent of it.
The opposite of giving thanks is complaining. Complaining is the criticism of the perceived absence of blessing in your life. Complaining says, “I have been wronged, and I deserve more than I have gotten.” Thanksgiving is done with satisfied humility. Complaining is done with unsatisfied arrogance. Complaining says, “You have not done enough for me.” It’s no wonder nobody wants to be around complainers. Their pride says, “No one measures up to my standards. Nothing and no one is good enough for me.”
The Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18). Knowing Christ is to know the reason to be thankful. In Christ our greatest need is taken away. Every person is a complaining, arrogant, proud, critic, and that is an affront to God. But rather than remove us from the dining room table for our attitude, he sent his Son to die for our sin. Jesus was removed from the house, removed from the city, and removed from the world. He was killed by grumbling haters who didn’t recognize what God was doing. But Jesus also rose from the dead, and rather than seeking retribution against those who wronged him, he offers forgiveness so that those who come to him with faith and repentance can be forgiven and receive grace. That is the love of God that ignites thanksgiving in the hearts of people. It’s the greatest news we can celebrate, and if cultivated and rightly perceived; this grace can change calloused critics into thankful singers of praise.
This Thanksgiving, take the time to reflect on what God has done and provided for you. Reflect on what you have in Jesus. When you see what God has done, it will fill your plate to overflowing and leave no room for bitterness and resentment. And that humble gratitude is what can also knit family and friends together in love and joy.