“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” So writes the Psalmist in Psalm 107:1. There is so much for which to thank our Lord. How easy to take it all for granted. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude,” as some have coined it, is not always easy or natural for many of us. Someone was asked if they are a glass half empty or a glass half full person. The response was, “I’m a broken glass that keeps leaking…” At first I thought this was an odd statement, maybe even a depressed statement, but the person continued, “But by God’s grace I am daily refilled and fully dependent on Him.” It brought to mind Paul’s words to the Corinthian Church in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
Thanksgiving isn’t really about a day to eat turkey and watch football. It’s more than family get-togethers and plotting out a strategy for “black Friday” sales. It’s more than decorations and place settings and menus and guest lists. Thanksgiving is about a lifestyle lived out in the world for the sake of Jesus. It’s about being conscious of His blessings day-in and day-out, in the good times and in the not-so-good times. The Psalms are filled with calls to give thanks to the Lord. That’s why they are such a great devotional guide for us. The Psalms remind us to be thankful.
Thankfulness is such a privilege, and can be an attitude changer for us. When we recognize that we are dead in our sin and trespasses, but that God, in His great love, sent Jesus to die in our place on the Cross, how can you not find joy? William Arthur Ward wrote, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” My mother-in-law, who went to be with Jesus earlier this year, had a custom on Thanksgiving Day as we would gather for dinner. After grace, before we began the feast, we would go around the table and state one thing for which we were thankful. My youngest son always resisted. Last year, which we didn’t realize at the time would be our last with her, we had the rare opportunity to all be together. My youngest son, who is now an adult, still didn’t want to participate, which was an option. My older son and his wife were then expecting their first child, our granddaughter and hadn’t revealed her name yet to anyone. After we got around the table sharing our thankful thoughts my younger son stated that he had one. He was thankful for his new niece, and then he gave her some crazy name that my other son had named her. My mother-in-law’s reaction was priceless. I am thankful for laughter! That little incident will long be remembered as we cherish the memories of Edith’s mother!
Have you stopped lately to just say “thanks” to God? Have you thanked Him for the simple things like family and friends? Have you thanked Him for food and shelter? Have you thanked Him that you have a faith, and confidence of eternal life in Jesus Christ? Have you thanked Him that you get to receive the body and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine of Holy Communion; that you get to worship with fellow believers; that you have access to His Word? Truly we have, in the words of Irving Berlin, “plenty to be thankful for!”
November points us to be thankful all month through. It begins with the celebration of our sainthood in Jesus on All Saints Day! What a great reason to be thankful—through the blood of Jesus we have been made His saints. Then, just a couple of weeks later, we celebrate Veterans Day, when we remember those men and women who have so graciously served this Nation to protect our rights and keep us safe—another tremendous reason to be thankful. In fact, be sure to find a veteran to give thanks to on Veteran’s Day! Just a short time later we stop and celebrate the day of Thanksgiving. Don’t miss out on all these opportunities to cultivate a thankful heart! This could be how the world around you sees Jesus living in you!
John Clayton writes, “Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed and how workable the Christian system is. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation to God and to one another.” What a wonderful opportunity we have to grow in giving thanks to God, and allowing that thanksgiving to overflow by sharing it with those whom God has placed in our lives. At the same time, what a difference we can make by thanking the people we love and those who have blessed us by simply saying, “Thanks for being a part of my life!” We are a very blessed people in Jesus, called to engage in the Master’s business, and that always means reaching others, in the midst of our blessings, to share the love of Jesus. Through this God refills the broken glasses of our lives and keeps us looking to Him. So give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever! May that love live in us so others may see it, and somehow be connected to Jesus!
And while we’re talking about thanksgiving, I want to thank each of you. I thank you for the support and prayers, for the welcome acceptance I’ve received, for the forgiveness which I have needed and been given, and for the partnership in the Gospel. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:3-6, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” I thank God for you and the privilege of serving together with you for the sake of Jesus! May He fill our hearts with true thanksgiving!
With thankfulness in my heart for Jesus and for you,