Everyone is very aware of the holiday season and that Thanksgiving is this Thursday. What could be better than gathering together with friends, family, and loved ones over a delicious meal to celebrate the season and give thanks. I have been thinking a lot about being thankful, and I am grateful that I have the freedom to be thankful. However, this year seems to be more of a personal struggle for far too many. The joy of the season is somewhat overshadowed by the darker realities of life that are becoming commonplace even on some scale in my own life, and in the lives of those I have the pleasure of being a part. Our world is changing at a very rapid pace like never before, people are losing their jobs, their homes, and even their families. Relationships are being challenged and pushed to the brink. Our leaders struggle in the midst of ethical and moral challenges to do the right thing with some sense of credibility.
Our Church Leaders are also struggling to discern God’s direction for their lives and the lives of those whom they have watch over, often wondering how they themselves will face another day, while effectively encouraging others to do the same. As the realities of life begin to become more apparent especially with more of it being up close and personal, I find myself spending more and more time with Him. Have you ever noticed how much the writers of the Gospels focus on how Jesus gives thanks, not how often He gives thanks, but how He gives thanks. Have you ever considered Jesus’ understanding and actions of giving thanks? He gives thanks for very basic, simple, and sometimes apparently inadequate resources, not out of fear and insecurity, but out of knowing who He is, having confidence in His relationship with the Father.
Jesus set a pattern of behavior in His life in this realm. He demonstrated something we reflect on this time of year: Jesus gave thanks. We have a national day of thanksgiving this week and Jesus pointed out in His ministry the importance of giving thanks. (Luke 17: 12-19) Thankfulness is part of a faith relationship with God. All food is to be received with thanksgiving. (I Tim. 4:3-5) God gives every good thing (James 1: 17) Jesus thanked God for hearing Him. (John 11:41-42) Jesus appreciated His ability to communicate with God in prayer. We too have a great privilege to speak to God we can and must continue to be thankful for the very same things for which Jesus thanked God. For the simply things from God that we often overlook, those things that sustain life. Jesus was thankful for food. Both in feeding the multitudes and in the Last Supper, Jesus gave thanks. (Matthew 15:35-36; Matthew 26:26-29). Who had more than Jesus? He had all things with God. (Phil 2:6) We must be thankful for the ability to communicate directly with God, to have a relationship with Him. We must be thankful for His good news that continues to save the lives of those who will listen.
Let this year be the year that you give thanks simply because you know who He is and who you are in relationship with Him. He is the Risen Lord, He is the Giver and Sustainer of Life, even if we cannot see or understand the how in the midst of our immediate circumstances. Let us like Jesus gives thanks from an essential understanding of who He is. We can give thanks for the small and inadequate resources in our hands because they just might be the very means He uses to do something supernatural either to meet a present and pressing physical need in a tangible way, or to remind us that His own sacrificial brokenness will always be more than enough to rescue us from the painful reality of our own broken lives.
We can give thanks out loud in the face of apparent impossibilities because we know He always hears us, and others will also hear and may discover Him through His visible life-giving presence in us. He wants to give us life in ways we cannot imagine. So, whatever circumstances we find ourselves this season, let us boldly approach the throne of grace with thanksgiving taking up the Bread of Life to feast abundantly on the One who gives life. Let us like Jesus always give thanks because of who He is, let us too be thankful children of God.