Thinking about what we give thanks for makes all the difference in our thanksgiving.
I think it’s a rather sad state of affairs when we consider that we, humanity, need a specific holiday to give thanks (quite literally and unimaginatively named). But thanksgiving is usually more synonymous with the gluttonous gorging of gluten than the more appropriate introspective reflection of things to be thankful for. Not that I’m opposed to stuffing and cranberry sauce, but I get a little Scrooge-y around this time, especially when I’m inundated with the inauthentic.
But this post isn’t about the holiday season as much as my own usual overthinking about the act of giving thanks. I hate to say this, but I think a lot of people are doing it wrong; people give thanks, many times, because of a favorable circumstance. They reduce blessings to fortuitous outcomes which result in a conditional giving of thanks. I joke about this when I preach on the topic, but I have yet to hear someone take a selfie after a serious accident or a demotion with #blessed because it drew them closer to God.
Is it wrong to give thanks for good things? No, of course not. But that’s child’s play. What takes character and perspective is to give thanks when the situation, on paper, calls for complaining. Giving thanks on the basis of circumstance is a harrowing commentary of our theology and a challenge to our profession that God is good and that He is sovereign. Not only that, giving thanks for the good things is revealing that we only deem things that are beneficial to us as “good” and worthy of our thanks.
But what if I told you that we are called to have our sights on things that are above and that we are to be more concerned with God’s glory than our own? In other words, are we giving thanks for what God provides or for who God is?
I think that is a challenging paradigm shift for me because I view thanksgiving only in the framework of a reaction to something rather than an underlying, habitual mindset. I think the trick is to be able to consistently create a contrast between my condition and the Cross of Christ so that the joy of my salvation will always shine even the darkest of days. So I must tether these external happenstances to the unwavering truth of God’s love for me. I want to thank God for being God. I’m tired of thanking God just “for this day”.
I was told by a good friend that my posts are too long, so in an effort to be more palatable, I will be concise. I am thankful for many things that God has provided. I am especially thankful for family and friends. I am thankful that I am at a healthy church where I can minister freely with my strange personality. I am thankful for the hard moments where I learned to lean, wholly, into the grace of God. But as I enumerate all the blessings, the reoccurring motif is that I am thankful for God, the giver of all blessings.