About this time every year, we pause for a break in the regular routine to “give thanks.” A proclamation was issued years ago, a holiday was forged, and before we embark on the Advent/Christmas Season, we “give thanks” for what we have. For many, they pause long enough to give the impression and observance that they are participating in doing this, but the question remains: What (or Who) are we giving thanks to?
Needless to say, this time of year all of the focus, articles, blogs, resources, cards, and notes begin to be disbursed. The influx is almost uncanny and can seemingly be overwhelming. The terms: “give thanks” “be grateful” “show gratitude” and “happy thanksgiving” echo on every platform and are captured in so many visual ways. For the Christian, the passages begin to float to the surface as certain words from Scripture are recounted and remembered. Some even memorized and turned into a message or teaching series.
Don’t think I am against all of it. I am just against it when the words and the actual gratitude is superficial or non-existent. You see, when we go through it because it’s part of the season or we are expected to, it doesn’t really mean anything at all. At that point, you’re just along for the ride, just saying all the things you feel you ought to say.
That doesn’t glorify God in any way. In fact, I kind of see that as a direct slap to His face. [Maybe that’s just me – but perhaps there are some others too.]
God is glorified when our level of gratitude, our thanksgiving to Him, is real, deep, and sincere. It happens when Jesus is the Lord of our life and when nothing will rob, steal, or strip us of praising God and rendering our true thanks unto Him. God is great, and God is good, and His mercy endures forever (see Psalm 136). Paul writes in 1st Thessalonians: In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (5, v.18).
Those words aren’t up for debate. They aren’t based on where we are in our journey today. And they should not be correlated to our current situation. They are timeless truths that extend far beyond anything earthly, anything seasonal, or any emotions I may feel. It is living and proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Lord of my life and giving Him thanks for all He has done for me. At the very least, I can live a life of gratitude for that!
This is what Thanksgiving really means to me. Yes, I am grateful for many other things too. But as we begin our journey to Advent and to the precious Christmas Season, slowing down and coming back to adopting and having a grateful heart is what I sense this next week is all about. Seize it. Find time and opportunity to connect with God and with His others. Trust Him. Know that He has given all that is needed for real hope, for real life, and for real joy.
Let me leave you, this day, with the opening of Psalm 34 (from TLB): “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of His glories and grace. I will boast of His kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Let us praise the Lord together and praise His Name” (vv.1-3).
Blessings as you give thanks!