It's Thanksgiving, couldn't you just feel a new post coming?
Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
-- Oprah Winfrey
I was sitting in the front row in church today, just taking in the pretty sight of the stage all decorated to look like autumn. Bouquets of orange, yellow, and fire-truck red flowers clustered beneath the pulpit. Vast displays of garden produce filled up every spare spot: perfect pumpkins, striped gourds, creamy canned soup, the works! I was observing it all with joyful eyes, thinking of how much I love this time of year, especially Thanksgiving.
I suddenly realized something. Thanksgiving isn't just a name of a holiday, it's not just a proper noun... it's a real word. Actually, it's a noun. Thanksgiving. It means 'the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favours, especially to God.'
It sort of seems to me that we've turned "Thanksgiving Day" into "Thankful Day," or even, "Appreciation Day." Instead of trying to make it a day full of worship and singing and praising and thanking God, which is what thanksgiving literally means, it's more of a feel-good day for everything we have. We get by by just feeling grateful.
There's nothing wrong with feeling grateful- it's a good thing! But why do we stop there? Even non-Christians who celebrate Thanksgiving do that. They feel grateful. They acknowledge everything they have. What they don't do is acknowledge who is responsible for everything they have. That's what we're supposed to be doing, but we do that less and less each year!
I began to feel guilty as I pondered all this. Not only do we so often forget to express our thanks to God, but sometimes we don't do it, even when we remember to! We find it a drag. With that delicious aroma turkey stuffing, potatoes and gravy filling the room, it seems a huge bother to have to pray before eating. As we sit or stand while one person leads out a simple prayer, we are fidgety, just eagerly waiting to dig in. What is wrong with our minds? Do we not realize that the same One who provided us with such a feast, is the same one who provided us with salvation from eternal suffering?
The more you let that statement sink in, the more it hits home. If we were standing in the courthouse, about to be sentenced to death for a crime, and someone stepped in and said "I'll take their place." A completely perfect person. I'm sure we wouldn't fidget around, say a hurried 'Thanks,' and then run away to do other things! We would feel entirely in debt to this person, for saving our lives! In fact, we'd feel SO overwhelmingly in awe of such a sacrifice- a perfect person paying the sentence of a death-bound criminal, that we would probably want to do anything that He said!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~
Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus
Sounds simplistic, until you start to think about that. Give thanks in all circumstances. Wait... ALL circumstances? Even for finally killing my first spider? That seemed pretty insignificant compared to what other people are experiencing.... I should even give thanks when I happen to discover an awesome song on Youtube? That's not even a big deal! Do I really need to give thanks after the blister on my toe from my dance shoes heals? That's not a desperate situation whatsoever, how do I know God had anything to do with it? It could easily have healed on it's own!
I wrestled with that idea for a long time. When is it God's doing, and when is it just natural? When is it man made, and when is it Divine Intervention? After many confusing ponderings, I came to a conclusion, thanks to this verse, in particular:
James 1:17 ~
Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
No doubt you've heard the song "Father of Lights," and the part that goes "Every good and perfect gift comes from You, Father of lights." That one line bounced around in my head for so long while I tried so hard to figure this one out. What finally helped my wrap my brain around this concept was when I tried putting my emphasis on the word 'every.' EVERY good and perfect gift comes from God! No matter how insignificant- it's from God. Time to give credit where credit's due!
What other options would there be, anyways? We could thank people sometimes, for making a meal for us, or for doing us a favour. But without God, people would be nothing. He is the One fueling their very steps, the One who gives them breath! He is the ultimate example of true goodness and righteousness, all man can do is cheap mimicry attempts.
Why give credit to anybody else? I take credit all the time for things that I "do," when really, it's all because of God. So many times people have said "Oh, you're good at that!" to which I reply with, "Thank you." It's a strange term come to think of it. A more truthful response would be, "Thank God!" If someone says "You did a great job on that painting!" the artist will most likely say, "Thank you!" Why is the artist thanking them? They did nothing. They should say, "Thank God for giving me the talent!" Haha, just random speculations buzzing around in my head, is that not what a blog post is primarily made up of?
Basically, all this to say, that every single good thing we experience comes from God. That excludes all momentary 'pleasures' that sinning brings- it means literally, every good thing. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
Let's not forget to give thanks in all circumstances. That also includes the times when we least want to give thanks. It seems bizarre to be thankful to God when a pet dies, or when we are feeling excluded by our friends. God is still in the situation, He is still present. He is still alive, which is, in itself, a HUGE reason to give thanks!
In short, there is always something to praise Him for. ALWAYS. It seems that searching for reasons to be thankful would prove to be a most radical, and enjoyable way of living!
1 Timothy 4:4-5
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.