Thanksgiving is the aspect of praise that directs gratitude toward God for all that He does for us. The Bible places a strong emphasis on the topic, teaching that Christians should be thankful all the time, (“… always be thankful …” 1 Thessalonians 5:18), for everything, (“…give thanks for everything …”) Ephesians 5:20, and gratitude should always be directed toward God through Christ, (“… giving thanks to God the Father through Him.) Colossians 3:17
British pastor John Jowett said, “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.”
In agreement with Jowett’s view, there are many today espousing that the attitude of gratitude is a primary source for happiness, contentment and even physical health.
In spite of the aforementioned, most would agree that thankfulness and gratitude are currently on the decline in our culture. There are many reasons for this, but possibly the two biggest deterrents to the giving of thanks, in an affluent country like ours, are complaining and taking things (family, friends, possessions, etc.) for granted.
For example, there was an elderly man lying in a hospital bed in critical condition. His wife of 55 years sat quietly beside him.
“Is that you at my side again, Ethel?” he whispered.
“Yes, dear,” she replied.
He responded softly, “Remember years ago when I was in the Veterans’ Hospital? You were there with me then. You were with me when we lost everything in the fire.And Ethel, when we were poor, you were right there with me then, too.”
The man sighed deeply and said, “I tell you, Ethel, you are just bad luck!”
The story, of course, is fictional. However, it does imply that we can easily have blessings come our way and either overlook or totally misinterpret them.
C.E. Cowman, in “Springs in the Valley” tells the story of a man who stumbled upon the barn where Satan stores his seeds waiting for an opportunity to plant them in human hearts. He noticed that there were more seeds of discouragement than any other type.
Just then Satan appeared and began to dialogue with him, so the man asked him why there were so many discouragement seeds. Satan explained that it was because they will grow and thrive almost anywhere.
When the man asked about where they wouldn’t grow, he reluctantly and sadly admitted, “I have never been able to get a single seed of discouragement to grow in a thankful Christian heart.”
The story is fabricated, but the principle is factual. Where Christ resides and thanks is given, discouragement cannot take root.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise God, all creatures here below; Praise Him above ye heavenly host, Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” — Amen.
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.