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Why Should I Be Thankful?

Some might respond to that this way, “My Life’s A Shambles.  Why Should I Be Thankful?”

Is that your situation?–for most of us, probably not.  When most of America thinks of its blessings, the list will include–family, health, job, food, shelter, freedom and, to some degree or another, those extras such as nice homes with central air/heat, nice cars, opportunities to travel, etc.  If we are especially thoughtful about it, we might include things like the beauty of nature, art, human achievement.

For some, however, it may be true, life is a mess.  Even though you might not fit that pattern, I want you to think about that question.  For when all is said and done, all of those things are very fragile, to some degree, simply accidents of history.  Is there something more to Thanksgiving than that?

The Bible says yes, emphatically yes.  In fact, a case might be made that gratitude, thankfulness may be the primary spiritual virtue/value.   Thanksgiving motivates worship, service, and evangelism.  Thanksgiving is the primary ingredient in worship, even the goal of evangelism (II Cor. 2:4 where the gospel is spread so that “thanksgiving might overflow” to the glory of God).  If that is true then there has to be some basis for gratitude that is not dependent on circumstances or the accidents of history.  In other words if you were stripped of everything what would be left to be thankful for?

First is God’s enduring love. In Old Testament, when David brought ark, symbolic of God’s presence to Jerusalem and the pattern of worship established, a group was specifically designated by name to give thanks to the Lord.  The reason given was “for his love endures forever.”  That phrase “his love endures forever” is repeated 41 times.  The inscription on many wedding rings, “love is eternal”, in many cases, is but a romantic notion or wishful thinking.  But with God it is the most fundamental and dependable reality.  God’s love lasts forever. A song by Steven Curtis Chapman puts it like this:

Like the stars belong in the sky
Like a fish belongs in the water
Just like children you and I belong in the hands of the Father.
This is where we belong
Where you and I were meant to be all along
made by the Father to live in his love
It’s the purpose and plan
For the heart of man.

In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Phillip Yancey says, “Nothing you can do can make God love you any more or any less.”  And that love finds its expression in Jesus Christ.

The second thing we have to be thankful for is God’ family. Some time ago I saw where 54% of pet owners would choose their pet as a companion over another human being if stranded on a desert island.  Some sample statements from the Scripture illustrate what I mean:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. (they are examples) -Romans 1:8
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? (they are the cause for joy) -I Thess 3:9
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. (a growing faith and love)–II Thess. 1:3

Folks the greatest gift God has given you, next to Himself, is one another!  What an unexplored treasure for most Christians.  How inclined we are to try to go it on our own.  How quick we are to break fellowship.

Third is God’s appointment or calling. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.-I Tim 1:12  You are chosen!  To be able to work for God is to work for the greatest employer, at the most important job, with the greatest pay scale and benefits.”

But most of all it is God’s victory. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. -I Cor 15:57

Gratitude, thankfulness is a powerful force in our lives.  The story is told of a man whose wife had left him.  He was depressed, had lost faith in God and joy in living.  One rainy morning he stopped in a restaurant to eat breakfast.  It was a gloomy atmosphere.  Several people present but no one was talking.  A little girl said to her mother, “Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?”  A server responded, “Sure honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?”  The customers were told, “Bow your heads.”  And the little girl prayed, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food.  Amen.”  The person telling the story said that prayer changed the entire atmosphere.

As it has been said, “God grant me one more thing—a grateful heart.”

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