Come Ye Thankful People, Come

Thanksgiving is a purely American holiday. However, the present generation of Americans often show little gratitude to God. By reflecting on conditions of the first Thanksgiving, it is obvious they didn’t give thanks because things were so good. They did it simply because of the condition of their hearts. Dispositionally they were thankful people. People are not thankful because they give thanks. They give thanks because they are thankful. Likewise, it is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.

Thanksgiving is a critical season from the perspective of the faith community. It tests us. Many things in our society stimulate discontent, not thanksgiving. The advertising world stimulates discontent among us. A broad based philosophy among us is: “More is better, but more is never enough.”

Never let the things you want make you unmindful of the things you have.

Most things that give us a burst of “happiness” are relatively unimportant. Like the Pilgrims, thanksgiving results for a sense that God loves us and is willing to take care of us. They could give thanks because they had a deep confidence God was with them. This verse by John Greenleaf Whitter confirms this: 

I do not know where His islands lift
Their fonded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His loving care.”

Verses like the following gave them a sense that God had His hand under them and was capable of caring for them. “He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.”  (Romans 8:32) 

Unthankful people tend to be negative and critical. Their ingratitude blocks the view of bountiful blessings. Most new days find us surrounded by an unfolding field of blessing. Enjoy the view and inhale the fragrance. Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what God has done. Sing it. A word of thanks or a song of praise can unlock even the prison of depression. It is therapeutic. 

Even if heavily laden, thank God for giving you the strength to keep going.

There is always, always, always something for which to be thankful. The prophet Habakkuk wrote:

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

May this season remind you of this.