faith: putting ‘thanks’ back in thanksgiving

By Kay Owen-Larson, PhD,
Crossroads Ministries USA

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” Psalm 95:1-2

This month, millions will celebrate the special American holiday of Thanksgiving. But as our society becomes more secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during this annual holiday is being increasingly overlooked, leaving only the feasting.

So, what does it mean to give thanks?

According to Webster’s dictionary, thanksgiving is “The expression of gratitude—as a prayer.” The Bible defines thanksgiving as, “Thanks, adoration and praise.”

We’ve come to think of Thanksgiving as a time to gather with family and friends and share the things that mean the most to us. It’s a time to laugh, a time for the kids to play, a time to hug one another and a time to enjoy the company of our loved ones over a sumptuous dinner. Indeed, these are all things for which we can be thankful.

This treasured tradition was birthed in the application of spiritual disciplines such as fasting, prayer and thanksgiving. In 1621, when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, they were grateful just to be alive. Not long after, they faced decimation by the inhospitable environment and frigid winter temperatures. The native Wampanoag Indians helped them to acclimate to their new world. After many trials, they survived and celebrated with a three-day feast thanking God for all He had done.

We, like the pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be things that we can complain about (the pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for.

What are some things you can show gratitude for? What can we give thanks for that we’ve often take for granted? 

God is good, and every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17). For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30). May He find us to be His grateful children.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.” Col. 3:15-17

Truly, we have many things for which to be thankful. During this Thanksgiving season, and throughout the entire year, let’s truly express our gratitude for our many blessings. Let’s give thanks, adoration and praise to the God who created and redeemed us. 

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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