“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Psalm 107:1).
Most of the students I’ve taught over the years will know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Oh, doIn’t have to enjoy turkey and all the fixin’s, though a slice of pumpkin pie is treasured. But I realize that there are many we meet, and maybe it’s the person who greets us in the mirror each morning, who simply don’t like Thanksgiving. Or worse, think that there is nothing for which we can give thanks.
I stumbled upon an article written in Business Insider entitled “12 Reasons Why We Hate Thanksgiving.” Here is an excerpt from that article.
“Instead of having a normal workweek, we’re now subjected to store closings, long family dinners, pumpkin-flavored goods, and plenty of other troublesome things. It’s called Thanksgiving and it’s one holiday we don’t approve of. Call us cynics, but we’re not giving thanks for anything” (Vince Veneziani and Courtney Comstock).
Our cynical and dystopian society has a lot to say about the evils of Thanksgiving – just start with the story of pilgrims and Native Americans and see where that goes. And I suppose that I could find sympathy with the uniquely cultural hoopla surrounding the American Thanksgiving. It has little to do with giving thanks, and far more to do with over-indulgence, sloth and self-gratification.
But even as I consider all of this, there is a nagging question that keeps gnawing away inside my head. “Is it right to pause and give thanks?” Do I, as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, have anything for which I can give thanks? And the answer is a resounding “Yes!” As the Psalmist reminds us, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psa. 103:2). This list moves from the mundane to the miraculous. The list is truly endless.
And yet, Thanksgiving is not meant to recount the blessings without considering the One who blesses. Why does the sun rise each morning, the rain fall, feasts are had, and family is treasured? Our thanks is not given for things, but for the giver. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
One of the most profound statements of this comes in the very first hymn in our hymnal, “All People That on Earth Do Dwell.” It is a setting of Psalm 100, which calls us to give thanks and praise to God. This is seen particularly in verses 2 and 3, followed by a stunning answer in verse 4.
The Lord ye know is God indeed; without our aid he did us make;
We are his folk, he doth us feed, and for his sheep he doth us take.
O enter then his gates with praise, approach with joy his courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless his name always, for it is seemly so to do.
Then the beginning of verse 4: “For why? The Lord our God is good…” Why do we bless the Lord? Why do we give thanks to the Lord? Because he is good. This Thursday, as you gather with friends and family, won’t you pause and give thanks to the Lord, for he is truly good!