A child in grade school gave a politically correct report on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. He said: “The pilgrims came here seeking freedom of you-know-what. When they landed, they gave thanks to you-know-who. Because of them we can worship each week at you-know-where.”
As our culture becomes increasingly secularized and humanized, references to God and faith are becoming rare in the media. Even holidays with religious origins are deposed by emphases on shopping and eating. So the Easter bunny obscures Christ’s death and resurrection; Christmas is all about Santa, and the turkey has replaced giving thanks to God. I wonder—when atheists feel grateful, who do they thank?
This article will give credit where credit is due—to Almighty God for His blessings and gifts. He sustained us through another year, provided our food and energy through earth’s natural systems, and allowed us who live in America to continue meeting together to worship Him. Compared with other countries, these blessings are huge and must not be taken for granted.
As a Biblical Truths Examiner, I could quote many Scriptures that command us to be thankful and to acknowledge God as the Source of everything we have. Perhaps the Book of Psalms is best known for praise and thanksgiving. Calvin Burrell, Editor of Bible Advocate magazine, calls the Psalms, “The Heart and Soul of Scripture.” He says the Psalms offer solace and strength to people of faith. Although we think these 150 chapters comprise mostly “praise poems, written to exult in God’s goodness, that description fits less than a quarter of the psalms in our Bible….We actually find a higher fraction of psalms permeated with protest and complaint.” Because the psalms carry both “gloom and gratitude,” Burrell says, “In good times and bad, Christians can find their voice in the Psalms, and God shows Himself patient to bear with us through them all.”
Thus we thank God both for advances and adversity. Expressing thanks, even for our troubles and losses, does not mean we are glad—it means we accept them as part of His plan for us. Even when we bring difficult consequences on ourselves by our own bad choices, we can still thank God for forgiving our sins when we turn to Him and confess them. Despite our rebellious ways and trying to live independently from Him, He will never reject us. He draws near to us when we draw near to Him (James 4:8). And He has promised never to leave us, never to forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).
Thanking God for everything can be difficult, especially when we cannot understand why bad things happen—and God is not obligated to let us know why. We trust Him anyhow. And we live for the next life (eternity) not this one. Hebrews 13:14-16 expresses this well: “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Yes, praise can be a sacrifice in the sense that we offer it to God even while grieving our losses. Generosity is a sacrifice that pleases God as well. Therefore, let us celebrate Thanksgiving Day by offering thanks to God, and also honor Him by giving to others. I guess that justifies Black Friday, as long as we’re buying gifts!
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 September-October 2014 issue, p. 4.