(Photo “Harbour Lands Park Sunset View” courtesy of Flickr and user Jeff S. Photo Art)
Against the background of great irony, people across the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving today. In the mist of family, food, and football, the gatherings that often take place reflect little of thankful hearts. Instead the era of entitlement has created hearts that are so deeply-rooted in self-sufficiency that people find little to be thankful about . . . after all they are self-made. Perhaps this is a negative outlook, yet I am convinced that it portrays the current condition of the human heart on a general scale. Genuine reflection of the lives each of leads would reveal that we have much to be thankful for though.
The act of giving thanks is conveyed to us through Scripture as an important aspect of the Christian life. Specifically in 1 Thessalonians we are told to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Within this passage we find three important aspects of the Christian life: rejoice, pray, and give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Even more, each of those tasks is modified by some variation that suggests a continuous action. Thus rejoicing, praying and thanksgiving are to be constant activities that should point to who we are. Even more, Paul expands this concept further to say that to be engaged in these activities is to be engaged in the will of God (cf. verse 18). What a revolutionary concept? For a people who are so often confused by the will of God, we see part of the commanded will of God very clearly enunciated here in a way that we are not confused.
Therefore, to have a day devoted to the action of giving thanks is a biblically-oriented concept. However, beyond just a day, it should be a characteristic of our very lives on a daily basis within every circumstance. Whether good or bad, easy or difficult, every circumstance was placed before us from God and therefore is deserving of our thankfulness. We should look to our Father and give thanks to him. While general in nature, here are three practical areas that we should be offering thanksgiving to our Father for:
- Revelation: First is for God’s revelation. First that God has chosen to reveal Himself through creation (Romans 1:18-32), through His Son (John 1:14), and His Word. The Lord could have chosen to remain hidden and obscure. He could have even hidden his plan of salvation. Instead, he chose to make it clear so that we may know Him and obtain an eternal inheritance. Thus we should be thankful for the Lord’s revelation.
- Remuneration: The Lord has chosen to reward his children. For their belief in him and even for their service, the Lord offers rewards and blessings. Sometimes we find ourselves the recipients of his blessings during our earthly life and yet we also know that we are the recipients of his blessings in an eternal life as well. For both, we should give thanks as he has been the true provider of all our needs.
- Reverberation: Finally, the Lord’s reverberation, or rather his sovereignty. We should be thankful that in the midst of uncertain circumstances we have a certain God. If it were not so much of our time would be spent in the agony of worry. Yet because of God’s sovereignty we trust the outcome of life to Him and Him alone.
Yes, there is much to be thankful for in the Christian life. If we were to be specific the list could span pages if we would take the time to simply dwell upon that which we have been given. As you give thanks today, I urge you to remember the Lord and all that He has accomplished in you and for you.
If you’ll permit to make one suggestion, take some time today to dwell on the words of David in 1 Chronicles 16 as he gives thanks to the Lord. While the context is historical Israel, from it we learn much about the character of God and his direction over lives, and thus we are shown practical examples to be thankful for. It is there that he says the following:
Give thanks to Yahweh; call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him; sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice. Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. Remember wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced, you offspring of Israel His servant, Jacob’s descendants – His chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; His judgments govern the whole earth. Remember His covenant forever – the promise He ordained for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, swore to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob as a decree, and to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘I will give the land of Canaan to you as your inherited portion.’ When they were few in number, very few indeed, and temporary residents in Canaan wandering from nation to nation and from one kingdom to another, He allowed no one to oppress them; He rebuked kings on their behalf: ‘Do not touch My anointed ones or harm My prophets.’ Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Proclaim His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonderful works among all peoples. For the Lord is great and highly praised; He is feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His place. Ascribe to the Lord, families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to Yahweh the glory of His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth. The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord is King!’ Let the sea and everything in it resound; let the fields and all that is in them exult. Then the trees of the forest will shout for joy before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. And say: ‘Save us, God of our salvation; gather us and rescue us from the nations so that we may give thanks to Your holy name and rejoice in Your praise. May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised from everlasting to everlasting.” (1 Chronicles 16:8-36 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible).