Thoughts around thanksgiving
It’s not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.
With summer behind us, this doorway to fall during mid-September through October often finds people getting excited about pumpkin spice, Halloween, and wearing heavy knits. As we head in to this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of what the Bible tells us about thanksgiving, and these are truths that are applicable the whole year through.
So many times throughout the Bible we read about giving thanks, thanksgiving, and being thankful. Colossians 3, talking about Christian characteristics, says that we should, “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” As children of God, we are called, among other things, to be merciful, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, loving, peaceful, and thankful.
While all of those characteristics stand out to me as areas in which I fail daily, I can’t help but be convicted by the last part of verse 15: “Be ye thankful.” This is instruction that we are to follow in our daily lives, not just one day out of the year, and yet, how often – even in the span of a single day – do I find myself complaining, lamenting, and resenting! As humans, we’ve made it a habit to complain and as a result we’ve become immune to God’s blessings.
The Bible also provides specific guidance around the areas for which we are to give thanks. When you consider Thanksgiving with your family, perhaps you’re accustomed to going around the table and sharing something, or someone, for which you’re thankful. These thoughts are traditionally positive, however note what we read throughout the Scripture about the nature of thanksgiving. “In every thing give thanks,” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Phil. 4:6). “Giving thanks always for all things unto God.” (Eph. 5:20). “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2). Thanksgiving is not to be reserved just for the good stuff. No, on the contrary, we’re called to be thankful for every thing – that includes the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. As C.S. Lewis said, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”
Thanksgiving, it should also be remembered, is not just a singular action. Thanksgiving has two components, that of being thankful, and that of giving. As much as thanksgiving is about what we are thankful for, thanksgiving is also about what we give. Consider who is around you, what have you been blessed with, and where can you serve others.
Someone once said that it is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy. As we enter this new season, may we remember that thanksgiving is an acknowledgement and reflection of God’s blessings to us.