Thanksgiving Day is here and that means family, friends, lots of food, and Black Friday sales. From a cultural viewpoint, Thanksgiving is the beginning of the Christmas season. As I (and many others) would argue, Thanksgiving Day deserves our devout attention and ought to necessitate a spirit of thankfulness to God for his goodness in the last year.
Scripture presents us with a main overarching idea behind thanksgiving to God: Thanksgiving is a sacrifice to God and demonstrates true worship. This worship changes our heart attitude in the face of trials and ultimately conforms us more into the image of Christ.
Thanksgiving as Sacrifice
“When we speak of God’s mercies, we should magnify them and speak highly of them” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1994, pg. 910).
This seems simple enough. Magnify the mercies of God and speak highly of them. How difficult can it be?
No matter how far along in their walk, any Christian will experience the brick wall of doubt, despondency, and despair in life circumstances. God knows this. He knows we are but dust (Psalm 103:14), yet he commands us to rejoice in him always (Philippians 4:4). It sometimes seems too much for our weak bodies, minds, and hearts to do. Yet this is a command given to us by God. This is what often makes thanksgiving unto God a sacrifice. God’s Word commands us to give thanks to him in trials, to offer our desires freely and willingly to him, and to trust his sovereignty. In this way, thanksgiving, trust, and sovereignty weave together and create a beautiful picture of God’s children submitting fully to the desires of their Father.
Thanksgiving as True Worship
Offering thanksgiving to God is our sacrifice to him and true worship. When we thank him in difficulty, we can thank him in prosperity. In this way, we can fully and meaningfully praise him for redeeming us, transferring out of darkness into light, and for “losing [our] bonds” (Psalm 116:16). We can truly say with David, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:17).
We can offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving on this side of eternity through joyfully submitting to his will and by giving thanks to him no matter our circumstances. Especially, when we do not feel thankful. This is often the posture of my heart when I come to him—I thank him without my heart fully entering into thankfulness. I need his help to be truly thankful. I need to be made fully and completely new. I need a new heart and mind not tainted with sin.
Scripture offers me hope as I come before him —a hope that I will be able to worship him without sin and hardness in my heart.
An example of this is in Isaiah 51:3: “For the LORD comforts Zion, he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.”
One commentator observes that this verse points to the Garden of Eden, the New Jerusalem. There will be, “No more sorrow or weeping, for it will be a place of undisturbed joy, with gladness, thanksgiving, and singing to the melody of musical instruments” (Isaiah: A Logion Press Commentary, 2000, pg. 380). Here, in the futuristic Garden of Eden, the New Jerusalem, there will be true thanksgiving unto God.
Take time to give thanks to the Lord for his faithfulness and goodness in hardship and prosperity. Meditate on the future thanksgiving we will offer God with undefiled hearts when he returns to redeem and restore us fully to himself.
Happy Thanksgiving from So We Speak!
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas and is a writer and content manager for So We Speak.