Word of the Day
Here in America, we have a national holiday set aside for giving thanks to God for what He has done for us as a nation and in our own lives. And that is very good. We all need to take a break from our hectic and over-burdened lives and reflect on just who the Eternal God is.
I know the mind of man is far too limited to grasp the fullness of His being, but for what we can comprehend, we need to focus on Him and His eternal existence. When we do, it gives us a fresh perspective of just how dependent upon Him we really are. And we are dependent upon Him, whether we recognize it, admit it or even try to deny it.
But, for born-again believers, every day should be a day of thanksgiving. Of all the folks in the world, believers should not need a special day to honor our God. That should be in the forefront of our minds continually.
Much is said in Scripture about our being faithful to give thanks to God, whatever our status or our situation in life may be. The Psalms, the ancient Jewish hymnbook, is filled with expressions of praise, thanksgiving, honor and declarations of dependence upon God. The ancient Hebrew’s life was centered on the Presence of God as expressed in the brilliance of the Temple in Jerusalem. It was here that God chose to honor by placing His Name and Presence among His people.
And I fully understand that the modern church building is not the Jerusalem Temple, nor the modern version of it. The Church in New Testament times is the people of God. The people themselves make up the Body, for it is in the people themselves that God resides. For many of us, sadly, we overlook this reality, WE are the Temple of God.
Having said this, what about thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day? Just where does it fit into my everyday life, my everyday walk with God, the mountain peaks and the valleys in my life. When all is well, the bills paid, groceries bought, family clothed and healthy, job secure and home safe and secure, it is so very easy to have a grateful heart. But what about those times when the money runs out before the month, when we have to struggle to put a meal on the table, when the family’s clothes are wearing thin, when sickness or injury invades our family, when the company downsizes and our job is in jeopardy, when the roof is leaking and needs repair, when just everything falls apart in our lives–what is there to give thanks for then?
Sadly, in far too many cases in life, this is where we find ourselves. In that blind alley, at the end of ourselves and our abilities, when sleep escapes us and even our pillows are soaked with tears, proving our heavy hearts and sleepless nights…how can anyone, especially God Who knows us and our situation, expect us to have a grateful heart?
Such a good question and such a common scenario in our lives. It is in these times that bitterness, disappointment, even despair find their way into our hearts and minds; and we are supposed to be grateful? To the human mind what can be more unthinkable?
It depends on the source of our gratitude. Is our gratitude based on what God does, what He gives, when we can find His Presence in our lives, when the sun is really shining for us, or is it dependent simply upon WHO He is?
The Gift, or the Giver; which brings delight and rejoicing in my life? When He reaches down in His grace and bestows His wonderful blessings in the form of “things” and people, is that the source of a grateful heart? Or, does my grateful heart rest in the fact that the Eternal God is real and He has touched my life, redeemed me, sustains me and I have His “exceeding great and precious promises”(II Peter 1:4)? Am I grateful to, and for, Him, or the gifts from His hand?
O, how questions plague my life! Here I am, supposedly a born-again child of the Eternal, Almighty God and I have to face so many questions about my walk with Him, my reliance upon Him. And now I have to question my own motives and attitudes about the giving of thanks. Wow! So many times I just don’t stop and think about some things, and when I am faced with these types of questions, I just want to push them out of my mind and go on my merry way.
But how do I do that? How do I avoid these questions, especially this one? Am I grateful for WHAT God does, for WHAT He gives, or am I grateful for HIM? Sometimes, and far more often than I care to admit, I focus on the gifts and ignore the Giver. But, when I face reality, just how did I GET( or, did I GET) the gift? Was it because I earned it, deserved it or was it really a work of the gracious, loving, long-suffering and faithful God?
When I find the answer to that question, I will also find out whether I have a grateful heart, or I simply “give thanks”!