Thanksgiving as a kid meant gathering with family at Grandma’s. It meant tons of food before anyone cared about things such as calorie counting, carbs from fat, and Ketogenic. It meant needing a second full sized plate for dessert, all of which was homemade. It meant playing kick the can with cousins and catching glimpses of the football game between Dallas and Detroit. And most of all, it meant hunting in the morning before all the relaxing began. Back then…Thanksgiving was pretty simple.
Now, as a 43 year old, it seems like a lot more work. Not because I now need to get my family ready for the day or navigate the details of the holiday. Rather, in my youth, Thanksgiving was pretty simple because life was pretty simple. I didn’t carry many burdens or worries, aside from how I was going to finally bag that monster buck! But now, life is filled with leaking water heaters, broken down vehicles, unending bills, failing appliances, regular exposure to pain and suffering, roofs that let in water instead of repel water, antibiotics, shoes that wear out, root canals, windows that break, grief, weariness from fighting sin, vinegar that spills, and the need to buy toilet paper yet again. Thanksgiving takes more work.
Psalm 92 helps put our life in perspective. Consider just the first two verses: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.”
Why is it good to give thanks to the Lord? Because the only other option is to be ungrateful towards God. We either give God thanks or we criticize Him, essentially telling Him He isn’t good enough and hasn’t been good enough towards us. When we do this, we are declaring ourselves to be equal with Him in wisdom and knowledge. At the heart of sin is a refusal to give thanks. This is a dangerous path to start down and its end is darkness, bitterness, and anger towards God. But, even more so, it is dangerous because it brings God’s discipline and even judgment. Being ungrateful is dangerous business! “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools”(Romans 1:21-22)
But, why else is it good to give thanks to the Lord? Because He is infinitely faithful to His people and loves them with a zealous love. This is most clearly seen in the Cross of Jesus Christ. God, in His love and mercy, sent His Son to deliver us from wrath, judgment, and eternal suffering so we could be with Him for eternity. He didn’t have to…but He chose to. Yes…circumstances can be challenging. Yes…there is real pain. Yes…there are some Christians suffering intense persecution. But, despite it all, it is good to give thanks because God has saved us from eternal suffering. Sadly, many Christians do not practice thankfulness to God, seeming instead to say with their attitude they would rather have eternal suffering later and no suffering now. What would you say if God told you He would give you what you wanted now but not give you salvation? Though I at times truly battle being thankful, I must admit, I would rather have suffering now and look forward to spending eternity with Jesus where suffering will be no more.
So, as we approach Thanksgiving, let us be thankful people. Let us remember it is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to His name. The Psalmist says we can live this out in two specific ways. First, each morning as we get up, thank God for His lovingkindness toward us, which we now most clearly see in the Gospel. Second, as we go to bed, thank God for His faithfulness for He is faithful to save us and keep us for His Kingdom.
But, not only this, practice being a thankful person, even in the little things such as buying toilet paper. Just consider, buying toilet paper means you have money to buy it…you had a location you could go into to buy it…you had a way to get to that location…you have a digestive system that is functioning…you have food and water you consume for your body to process…you have a place to use the toilet paper…and you probably even had a choice of 1-ply or 2-ply, regular or extra soft. Remember, being thankful is not optional for the Christian! “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”(I Thessalonians 5:18). So, in everything give thanks…even in buying toilet paper! Happy Thanksgiving!