What comes to your mind when you think about Thanksgiving? I recently sought to answer that question and I took some time to ask a few people that very question. The answers I received turned out to be very interesting! They included football, family, fun, food, hunting, rivalries, and shopping. As I sat down and went back through some of the answers I got, I quickly noticed that there was an important word missing from the group of answers. That was the word, “thanksgiving.”
I honestly enjoy just about every one of the things that each person mentioned about what they do or experience at Thanksgiving. There is nothing wrong with any of them. At the same time, the real reason for the holiday of Thanksgiving is totally being missed within those answers and I think that his tragic. That being said, I wanted to take a second to remind us this week about the need to be thankful this Thanksgiving.
David wrote, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1 ESV) In this one verse we see two very important elements of praise and thanksgiving.
First,thanksgiving is to be constant. Notice that David said he would bless the Lord “at all times.” This is the idea that regardless of what is happening in our life and regardless of circumstances that surround us, we are still thankful and able to praise the Lord for those things. This means good times and bad times. This means hard circumstances as well as difficult ones. This means when we are poor and when we are rich. It means praising the Lord at all times.
There are those who inevitably will say that they have nothing to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time. They maintain the philosophy that life is a dirt sandwich and every day is just another bite. Christians should never have this kind of attitude! Our God is always in control of everything and active in every circumstance. He is the source of our blessing and ultimately, the one who allows everything to happen in our life. It is because of that truth that we can confidently praise and thank our God for everything that takes place in our life.
We often quote Romans 8:28 whenever bad things seem to take place. As believers in Christ, we rest in the assurance that God is working everything for our good and that truth helps us to move forward despite tough circumstances. I wonder whether you have ever asked the question, “Why does God do this?” If you haven’t, you should. This is not a deep theological or philosophical question. In fact, the answer is given for us in the next two verses. Notice what Paul writes,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 ESV)
Second,thanksgiving is to be continual. David wrote that God’s praise would continually be in his mouth. In one sense, it is sad that we have to designate a day to be thankful isn’t it. It makes it seem as if we are not thankful all of the other days of the year. In another sense, it is a good thing that we have a day like this because our God is deserving of it. The reality is that praise and thanksgiving to God needs to be something that is a regular part of our life. It ought to fill our singing and ought to be a major portion of our prayer time. We often treat our prayer lists like a Christmas list that a child sends to Santa Clause at Christmas. We have this huge list of wants and wishes and we never take time to praise and thank the God of this universe, with whom nothing is impossible. May praise to our God be a continual portion of our life for our God is deserving of it!
You see, we are able to be thankful for everything because both the good and the bad circumstances are really the continual goodness of God bringing us into conformity to the image of Christ. This is confidence and this is the right understanding of true thankfulness to the Lord. James had the same theme when he wrote in his epistle,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
May we be in a state of constant thanksgiving, not just this week, but every day of the year for our God is good, gracious and merciful!