Thanksgiving is today, and it is my favorite holiday. There are several reasons for this. I love the food that is traditional on Thanksgiving. I love getting together with family and friends and sharing food and fellowship. I also appreciate that Thanksgiving is about being something as opposed to giving and receiving.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, and I am amazed and humbled when I think about all I have to be thankful for. Yet something that is brushed aside in our current culture is the object of our thankfulness – the One to whom thanks is due. I loved teaching about the first Thanksgiving when I was teaching elementary school, because it was an opportunity to talk about God, prayer, and sharing with others.
In 1782 the Continental Congress made a proclamation of which the following is a portion – (Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln made proclamations of their own in subsequent years)
I Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness.
I am blessed by the words – “Thanksgiving to God” and “gratitude to God”. It is not enough to be thankful, we must express our thankfulness to God. He alone is worthy of our gratitude for all that He has done, is doing, and will do to accomplish His will in our families and the world.
I am currently reading the book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte. The book recounts that during a period of utter despair, Chesterton “was filled with both an enormous sense of thankfulness, and an enormous need for someone or something to thank.” (p. 218) This insight caused Chesterton to embrace Christianity. He went on to become a critic and writer that greatly influenced the lives of C.S.Lewis amoung countless others. “The test of all happiness” he wrote, “is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (p. 221) The defining quality of his life as described by his contemporaries was JOY. Thankfulness leads to joy.
When we express to God our heartfelt thanks – it blesses Him. This attitude of gratitude is something we must intentionally cultivate in our children. One of the marks of the current culture is an attitude of entitlement which says “I deserve this!” As sinful beings in a fallen world, we do NOT deserve the blessings we receive from God. It is His mercy and grace which enable us to call God “Abba, Father.” As a loving Father He desires to bless His children.
Psalm 145: 3-5
3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. 5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
Here the Psalmist is saying that one generation must let the next know just how mighty, glorious, and splendid God is! As parents this is a challenge and a great opportunity. As we share with our children just how faithful God has been and how much He has done for us as His children, it will remind us of His work in our lives and at the same time, bless our Heavenly Father as we give Him the glory.
So, this Thanksgiving, let’s express thanks to God as this old hymn written in 1636.
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices; Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us; And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed; And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given; The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven; The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore; For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.