Thanksgiving is the day when most Americans over-indulge on turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and cool whip. However, although Thanksgiving is a national holiday, the concept of giving thanks didn’t originate from the holiday, and it is much deeper than just watching football, eating food, and online shopping.
Thanks–giving is an attitude of the heart and taught throughout Scripture. The Psalmist says in Psalm 107:1, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good, for His mercy endures forever,” and “It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord,” in Psalms 92:1. Similarly, the apostle Paul wrote: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). These passages reveal that giving thanks is good and it’s a fulfillment of God’s will in our lives.
Keith Moore, my pastor, often says, “Thanks–giving is always appropriate.” No matter the circumstance or situation we might find ourselves in, there is always an opportunity and reason to give thanks. Today, I want to discuss a few with you so that we can focus on fulfilling “the will of God in Christ Jesus” with perpetual Thanksgiving during the coming year.
Recently, news cycles have revealed supply chain backups and breakdowns due to the coronavirus crisis, and they have fueled fears of more shortages and closures. Are we to cower in fear or hide our heads in the sand? No, as the apostle Paul said, in all things, give thanks. Notice, he didn’t say for all things give thanks – the verse says in all things. We might not have our favorite main course or favorite dessert, but do we have food? We might not have as much as we want, and maybe we can’t overindulge, but is provision available? If the answer is yes, then Thanksgiving is the correct response.
We can be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. We still have the right to worship in a manner of our choosing. The freedom of speech, press freedom, the right to bear arms and the God-given, inhalable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are still ours. Showing gratitude and Thanksgiving for what we have ensures our getting to keep it.
What happens when we are filled with gratitude and Thanksgiving? First, we are in God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5), and second, peace and joy are near at hand. This second point is illustrated in Philippians 4:6-7, when Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” Here Thanksgiving is a precursor to peace. It agrees with the popular saying: “Know God, know peace. No God, no peace.”
When we start truly looking at God’s goodness, mercy and grace, it is hard to stay sad or depressed. The natural result of thankfulness is gladness and rejoicing. In Psalm 126, Israel had been in captivity. When they were free and returned to their land, they felt they were dreaming. Psalms says, “We were like them that dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongue with singing, then said the heathen, The Lord has done great things for them.” As Israel rejoiced in God’s goodness and provision, the heathen recognized God’s hand was at work on Israel’s behalf.
The apostle Paul said that the abundant grace of God might, through the Thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God. The Blue Letter Bible says that redound means abound, abundance, remain, exceed and increase. The thankfulness of many increases abundant grace. Abounding conjures a picture of something overflowing, and when Thanksgiving is overflowing, other arenas of life follow suit. Sure, things might not be as we wish, but thankfulness will generate good and greater blessings. Let me encourage you to look for the good, the single ray of sunshine and be genuinely thankful for it and watch it expand into a sky full of sunshine.
* All Scripture taken from King James Version unless otherwise noted.