Someone once remarked that the worst of all possible moments for an atheist is to feel truly thankful and have no one there to thank. Most Americans are not actual atheists, of course, but as Calvin Miller wrote, they may be practical atheists. An actual atheist has no God to thank. A practical atheist has a God to thank, but never thinks of doing it.
As I mentioned in last Sunday’s message, there is no clearer passage of God’s will in all the Scripture than 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which states: “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Have you ever wanted to know God’s will on an issue? There it is. Give thanks….in everything.
Of course, you are receiving this on the day after the one day of the year when we practice God’s will the best in this matter, and I’m not just talking about praying over the turkey (or the afternoon indigestion). But Thanksgiving is not just a single day of the year, nor even a specific season. Neither is it so much about how much we have been blessed, but how much we are thankful. It’s a recognition of God’s gracious blessings of life itself, and His providential provision of our every need, just as He has promised. It’s a general attitude of gratitude and about doing God’s will as a way of life.
In fact, the art of thanksgiving is not a matter of how much or how little God gives us. America is proof that the blessings of God can wean us from remembering the necessity of God. The Bible warns and history has continually proven that when God blesses a nation with abundance, the people are not prone to love Him, but to love only His abundant provision. When He blesses us with material blessings, we don’t typically become believers or thankers, but mere materialists.
The truth is, giving thanks is usually learned not in abundance, but in times of need, when we have more appreciation for the simple things of life. With that in mind, may I leave you this week with the words of the prophet Habakkuk, who offers some much-needed counsel on Thanksgiving for all of us:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pens and no cattle in the stalls…yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Hab. 3:17-18)
I hope you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.