I love Thanksgiving. Love it. It is a day full of sitting on the couch watching the Macy’s Parade (and the dog show that follows it) and hanging out with your favorite people and eating some dang good food and wearing a cute sweater.
Perhaps the best part about Thanksgiving is that it is the doorway to Christmas season! (My family has a yearly tradition of picking out our Christmas tree and decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving.)
But all of that aside, let’s talk about thankfulness for a hot sec.
While Thanksgiving is a secular, American holiday without any true religious meaning, God still cares about thanksgiving. Now, I don’t mean Thanksgiving with a capital “T”; I mean just “thanksgiving.” They are different.
Thanksgiving, capitalized, connotes turkey and mashed potatoes and the episode of Friends where Joey gets his head stuck inside a raw turkey; thanksgiving, uncapitalized, means to quite literally give thanks, be grateful, and focus on the abundance of blessings in our lives.
In the context of the latter, God is very much present.
So what does the Bible say about thankfulness? How and why does God want us to give thanks (with or without the pumpkin pie)? I dove into scripture to see what thankfulness-related tidbits I could find, just in time to begin holiday festivities.
Let’s jump to a few key places in the Bible, starting with…
Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 16:34 says,
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
This one is sort of a no-brainer. We know God is good, and we know God loves us (always a good reminder, though). Every day, I am so abundantly thankful that God is good. He’s not manipulative, He’s not cold or distant, He’s not asking for me to be perfect — He’s good. He’s just a good, good Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine. And that means that we as believers get to live our entire lives with Him beside us like a little Jiminy Cricket, always guiding us and watching over us. Now that is certainly something to be thankful for.
Next up: Psalms. If you ever need to find something relatable with how you’re feeling in your faith, just head on over to the book of Psalms: it’s the one-stop shop for small pieces of God’s character. Psalm 136:1-9 reads,
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Give thanks to the God of gods. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: to him who alone does great wonders, who by his understanding made the heavens, who spread out the earth upon the waters, who made the great lights — the sun to govern the day, the moon and the stars to govern the night.”
It is easy for us to forget that God went to great lengths to make our universe so incredible, and that he uses this universe to do great wonders for those who love Him each and every day. Let’s be thankful for the beauty and awesomeness of our world! After all, creation points us back to the Creator.
Now onto the New Testament… let’s look at Timothy. 1 Timothy 6: 6-8 tells us,
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
Let’s look at that again: “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” The only things that endure, as I recall a speaker once saying, are God, love, and the souls of people. We often wear ourselves out chasing after things that simply do not endure. The things of this world do not last, which is why it is especially important to be grateful for the blessings that are already in our lives — our family, our friends, our God, etc. — instead of longing for those that are not.
Finally, Hebrews offers a bit of wisdom. Hebrews 12:28 states,
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
Do I even need to add anything after that? I’m not sure I could or should. Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Hebrews covered it: we belong to the most powerful kingdom that has ever existed or will ever exist. God’s plans for us cannot be thwarted because, well, He’s God. He wins every time; therefore, we will not be shaken. I’m thankful that the power that lives in me is so much greater than anything the world could throw at me.
… … … … …
While (of course) we shouldn’t only give thanks once a year, I can’t think of a better time to reflect on God’s character and on His work in my life than while sitting around the fireplace with my family, watching football and eating homemade pumpkin pie.
So, Happy Thanksgiving! I am truly thankful that you are taking the time to read the words I care so much about writing, and most of all, I am thankful that I get to do it for the greatest of causes.