“Praise the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2)
This upcoming Thursday the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a day typically celebrated with family and friends. Many will watch the famed Macy’s Day Parade on television, or they will watch football later in the day. Some will see loved ones they haven’t seen for a long time. Most will enjoy a gut-busting meal of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
During the meal, many families take the time to share with one another what they are most thankful for. Unfortunately, there are too many people who never take the time to think about what they are thankful for, much less say a prayer of thanks before the meal.
Our scripture verse today comes from a psalm written by King David. Some call Psalm 103 David’s great “Song of Thanksgiving.” In it he encourages himself to give thanks for daily blessings and he reminds himself of the many benefits God has given him.
The Pilgrims also remembered God’s benefits. They arrived November 11, 1620, on the rocky coast of Cape Cod. They came to the New World to seek a place to worship in freedom. Little did they know of the struggles they would experience. They suffered many hardships the first winter, including the death of many of them. However, in spite of all their many problems, they are credited with established the first Thanksgiving.
David and the Pilgrims had learned to be thankful for the blessings and benefits God had given them. The question for today is, “For what should we be thankful?”
The Essentials of Life
First of all, we should be thankful for the essentials of life.
The Apostle Paul knew all about being thankful for the essentials of life. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
Having food should make us thankful.
The Pilgrims came to this country and learned right away that it was not going to be easy to survive. They had little to eat that first winter, but with the help of the native people most of them survived. Suffering near starvation, and a having a good harvest that next year, taught the Pilgrims to be thankful.
Having enough to eat is cause for thanksgiving.
According to figures by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one billion people throughout the world suffer from hunger. That number has increased mostly due to the global financial crisis.
Having adequate clothing should also make us thankful.
Winter finds many people cold and insufficiently protected. Statistics published by Globalissues.org indicate that over 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 a day. Those of us who are comfortably clothed are a privileged few.
What other essentials do we take for granted? How about clean water, electricity, proper sanitation, a soft bed to sleep in, and easy access to health care. Need I say more?
Let’s focus on what we have instead of what we want – and be thankful for it.
Everything in Life
Secondly, we should be thankful for everything in life.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds them to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).
Yes, we will experience good days and bad days in our life, but we must always remember to thank God regardless of what we are going through. That means we are to thank God …
• When we have enough money to pay our bills … and when we don’t.
• When we have a home we can call our own … and when a disaster takes it from us.
• When we wake up feeling great … and when we wake up hurting.
• When we have children … and when we have none.
Know that God has a reason for allowing us to experience the good and bad of this life. Romans 8:28 reminds us that “All things work together for the good of those who love God.”
We need to learn to be thankful for God’s weather, whatever it may be. Although we experience the storms of life, and sometimes feel as though we are being tossed to and fro, we need to be thankful for God’s promises that meet us in life’s storms. Hebrew 13:5 reminds us of His promise to never leave us, nor forsake us.
We need to be thankful that we know the One who holds the future and can rest in His care. Even when it seems like the whole world is coming down around us, we should remember that Our loving Father has the whole world in His hands.
We need to be thankful that there is a design in our difficulties. Romans 5:3 tells us that trouble teaches us patient trust in the Lord. And, problems large and small are intended to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).
Most importantly we need to learn to be thankful for trouble that has not come our way. God spares us many heartaches of which we are unaware. Many people can attest to being saved just in the nick of time from having a serious accident of one kind or another.
Thirdly, we should be thankful for eternal life.
Paul exclaims, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15)
God’s grace should make us thankful.
Romans 3:10-23 reminds us that we are all sinners, undeserving of salvation. Know that it is through the gift of God’s grace that we are saved and receive eternal life.
We are reminded in John 3:16 that “We who were without hope have been assured that we’ll never perish.” The assurance of eternal life should make us thankful every day (1 John 5:12-13). Just imagine how hopeless life would be without that promise.
Yes, David encouraged himself to give thanks for his daily blessings, and we should too. We should be thankful for the essentials of life; we should be thankful for everything in life; and, we should be thankful for eternal life.
Revelations 7:11 tells us that all “Christians will be thankful in heaven.” So let’s start rehearsing heaven’s Song of Thanksgiving. After all, a thankful heart will make our time on earth more heavenly.
Let me close with these thought provoking words:
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings,
thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible,
thank you, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising,
thank you Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost,
toast is burned and tempers are short, and my children are so loud,
thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures
in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced,
thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.
Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous,
thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day
and wish my circumstances were not so modest,
thank you, Lord, for life.
(From Our Daily Bread, February 20, 1994)
I want to thank the Lord for each of you who has taken the time to stop by and read my blog. May God bless you and may you have a very happy Thanksgiving!