More than 50 million turkeys will be consumed in Canada and the United States this weekend. But thanksgiving isn’t really about turkeys – it’s about the giving of thanks! And while the giving of thanks is foundational to the Christian faith and reflective of our nature, most will admit that it is a challenge to be consistently thankful.
One eventful day in 1883, a violent volcanic eruption occurred on the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia. 40,000 thousand people lost their lives and a huge cloud of dust and ash ascended into the upper atmosphere blocking out the sun.
The following day, citizens in New England awoke to an eerie darkness. Having no idea what had happened in faraway Indonesia, they concluded that the sun had not risen. With many questions and no answers people slowly began to make their way to the churches. By noon, every Church in New England was filled with people crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness.
Early the following morning, everyone stared expectantly to the east. As the sun began to peek over the horizon, in a single voice they began to thank and praise the Lord for the sunlight, the warmth and the joy of God’s gift of a new day. Records indicate that for most of those people, this was the first time they had thanked God for the warmth and wonder of the sun. And sadly, it was reported that within days, they took the sun…and everything else, for granted once again.
Our problem, like those in New England, is that we are prayerful during times of crisis, thankful in times of deliverance and forgetful the rest of the time. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 makes the giving of thanks an ongoing imperative saying, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God…” Is this possible? Biblical examples suggest that it is.
Job lost riches, family and health but remained thankful. Though experiencing sorrow and personal suffering, Job in qualified acceptance and thanksgiving, “…knelt on the ground and worshipped God and said: Praise the name of the LORD” (Job 1:20ff abridged).
Jesus consistently displayed an attitude and pattern of thanksgiving in His earthly ministry. He gave thanks before miraculously feeding the 5,000. He thanked God for answering Him and again when He instituted the Lord’s Supper.
The Apostle Paul, who underwent significant persecution for his faith in Christ, wrote and said, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Perhaps like George Herbert we should pray, “Thou hast given me so much; Give me one thing more, a grateful heart.”
Enjoy your turkey and have a happy Thanksgiving!
— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church