Scripture commands thanks, so Thanksgiving should be one Holiday where Christians are “all in.” Let’s consider just one of the many direct commands in the Bible to give thanks:
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Let these Words of Scripture recalibrate your thinking this Thanksgiving.
Did we have to go there right off the bat? Yes, the text says “in everything.” That is difficult for us in two major ways: first in the mere multitude of the “everythings,” second, in the portion of “everythings” that are very difficult things.
“Everything” is difficult to count.
As David said, “God’s thoughts toward us outnumber the sand.” We don’t have enough time in life to list all of the “everythings” that we are to be thankful for — just as no one can count the stars of the sky or the sand along the shore. But let’s take some extra time this week to try.
Consider all the thoughts that God has for you. Consider all the ways God has helped you. Start to number the sand on your seashore and you will find yourself in a better attitude. You will find that God is good. Let me give you a pyramid scheme to help you.
A Myriad of Pyramid Scheme
Try meditating on God’s goodness like a pyramid. As I think about God’s goodness, I find that behind every one testimony of thanks there are two or three hundred others hiding. Take one category for an example:
I thank God for water. When I do so, I thank God for drinking water and for rain water. When I thank God for drinking water, I thank God for a city that cleans its water and pumps it to my neighborhood. That’s two more areas of thanks under thanksgiving for drinking water. But I could go to another layer of thanksgiving under just one of those to thank God for the bathroom and the kitchen water. I could move another layer down the pyramid and include shower, sink and toilet under bathroom water. I could go down another layer to thank God for a warm shower… Which is a huge thing in the “everything” for which to thank God. And all of those stem from one area of thanks — water. We have hundreds of “things” to thank God for just from one pyramid heading of water. It might be easier to visualize:
Each category of thanks brings literally innumerable other categories of thanks. Spend some time unpacking these myriads of pyramids of thanksgiving this week. . . and every week.
Some “everythings” are also very difficult.
Of course there are many boxes in our pyramids that list dark times in life. These are the diseases, the broken hearts, and the failures of the past, just to name a few. You know what they are. And when we look over them, many different emotions come racing forward. If we are honest, the attitude of gratitude doesn’t often stem from these, but they are part of the everything.
Even in the darkest of times, we can find thanks. Consider just a few ways you are able to thank God even for these most difficult of times:
- Thank God for the pleasantness that He brings even beside the times of sorrow.
- Thank God for the lessons we learn from our hard times — Lessons of “I’ll never do that again,” or “I can help someone else through that now.”
- Thank God that those times we feel hurt the most are the times we draw closest to our Shepherd.
- Thank God that, because of Christ, all earthly sorrows and difficulties are temporary. We await an eternal state without sorrow. Often the nature of heaven mirrors the contrast of what the pain of your dark time showing that God will make all things new.
- Thank God that our hard times give us strength. The “testing of our faith” does produce endurance and strength of character is only produced through the furnace of affliction.
Each of these lines in themselves can be another set of pyramids to take even our worst life experience and pray about them “with thanksgiving.”
Thanksgiving is a command.
We are not given this as a suggestion for one day a year when we want to eat a bunch of pie. No. Thanksgiving is essential to your Christian life. It demonstrates that you understand the world correctly. All things are given by a great and holy God and He deserves and must have our gratitude.
That brings us to another major idea here in the two words, “give thanks.”
Thanksgiving is a gift.
This command goes beyond a general attitude of gratitude. Thanks must be offered to Someone. This Someone is God. Lincoln was clear as he instituted Thanksgiving as a national holiday that the thanks we are to give is to God.
“in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Our nation would do well to remember this important fact this year as well. Thanks-giving must be given to a Person. As a country, we owe thanks, primarily to God.
Of course, as Christian people, we know this truth no matter which country we find our citizenship. We must thank God, our Heavenly Father, for all things. We thank a personal God Who hears and desires us to verbalize this gift of thanks. SO DON’T just be thankful for water. SAY – “Thank You, God, for water.” All we have is given to us by a gracious and loving God.
I was recently yelled at by a middle aged man in the subway for offering a message of God’s grace to him. Even as he was yelling, “There is no grace, there is no God. . .” i noticed some interesting things about him. He was wheeling a nice bike, he had just used a state of the art subway, he had a voice, he had no limp, he had clothes and enough food to give him energy to make it through at least that day. To be honest, I felt like yelling out, “You have so much to thank God for. Don’t deny His grace!” But I didn’t. He is not yet ready for that.
But then, how can a secular person give thanks for many things? Whom do you thank for the warm sun that helped your pumpkin grow… to provide your pumpkin pie? It is such an honor and privilege to thank God for everything. We can thank God for the sun, for oxygen, for breath and for the lungs to breathe them.
Perhaps most of all, we can thank God for being a God who deserves and desires our thanks. And thank Him for allowing us to know Him personally so that our eyes are not so blind as to swear at the God who made our tongue. We can thank God for all these myriads of pyramids!
“… for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Are you in Christ today? Then thanksgiving is God’s will for you, and not just on this Thursday.
Thanksgiving is central to a proper understanding of life. All those in Christ are grateful people. When we understand gratitude correctly, we find in this command a gauge of whether or not we are looking at life correctly. Do you discern reality as God does, from His paradigm? Do you have a Christian worldview? Then you will be thankful.
You will recognize all things as coming from His hand and thank Him for everything. Yes, thanks even the bumps on the road of life because we thank Him for driving us safely home to a place where there will be no more violent bumps but all will be fixed. Until that day:
In everything give thanks, my brothers and sisters!
Thank You, Lord, for sending rain.
A picture of Your mighty hand
To withhold and stop the greatest
Land from prosperity or feasting.
You send and give to good and bad
A picture of your gracious hand
That reaches down to Adam’s race
Flowing streams of glorious grace.
Let’s offer pyramids of praise to our gracious God today for from Him streams all our blessings!