The Blessing of Thanksgiving
No one enjoys being around a negative person. We all know individuals who are often critical, pessimistic, and destructive with their words. And in our world today, it’s much easier to be negative than positive. The book of Proverbs warns us, “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly” (Proverbs 15:2) and again in Ephesians 5:4, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” In Luke Chapter 6, Jesus takes this thought further when he says, “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
The Bible takes us to the root of the issue. Whatever is prevalent or “abundant” in your heart will always come out through your words – one hundred percent of the time. A thankful heart produces words of thankfulness. A bitter and resentful heart produces words of ingratitude and thanklessness. We cannot expect words of thanksgiving to be abundant in our lives, while bitterness and resentment reside in our hearts.
A Biblical Response
So, why be thankful? If we’re being honest, the world seems to be falling apart all around us: pandemics, elections, family struggles, and people who irritate us. All of these seem to be against us. How are we supposed to develop thankful hearts in a world that bombards us with negativity?
Paul tells the church at Colossae, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). Again, he writes to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Two aspects of thanksgiving come out in these two passages: giving thanks to God and giving thanks in our present circumstances.
Give Thanks to God
Throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms, there is a common theme of giving thanks to God. Psalm 107 exclaims, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1). We could also read this verse as follows: “Oh give thanks to the LORD because He is good and because His steadfast love endures forever.”
Later in the psalm, the author admonishes Israel, “Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things” (Psalm 107:8-9). You should give thanks to God for His steadfast love towards you because He has satisfied your souls through Christ. When your heart feels dry and empty, he fills it with “good things.” This is a huge source of praise for Christ-followers.
These verses help us to put our thanksgiving in context. Rejoice and give thanks to God for what he has done for you in Christ. Without him, you are lost and still in your sin. This psalm concludes with a warning, “Whoever is wise, let Him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD” (Psalm 107:43). Consider God’s abundant love toward us and verbally give thanks to him. Though we were wandering in darkness, he has saved us!
Give Thanks in Present Circumstances
There is no question that God works in the lives of his saints through the pathway of suffering. It’s never pleasant to rejoice in our sufferings, but the Bible reminds us that we never suffer without purpose. The apostle Peter drives this point home in his first letter to the Jewish exiles. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6). “If necessary” can also be translated as “since necessary.” God deems it necessary for you to walk through suffering on this earth for the eternal good of your soul.
In Philippians 4, Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). And again in 1 Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). To be content in the trials that God sovereignly sends into your life is “great gain.” It takes great humility to bow to God in the midst of suffering and say, “God, I am content with whatever You send me. I trust Your hand and Your love towards me. Make me content in this and shape me into the image of Your Son.”
Give thanks for the present circumstance God has you in - no matter how uncomfortable. God wants to do his work in your heart in these circumstances.
Press into him. Trust him. Seek his face in the struggle.
As Thanksgiving draws near, seek to speak words of thanksgiving to those around you and to your God. He knows Your heart. Jesus gives a warning in Matthew, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). Seek to cultivate a heart of gratitude for what God has given you in Christ. Thank Him for your present situation - whether that be unemployment, family struggles, or missing a loved one as the holidays draw closer. Seek your King and his heart. Trust him in his sovereignty. Know that he sees you. Know that he’s with you. Know that he’s given us so much to be thankful for.
Brittany Proffitt lives in southern Ohio and holds a BA in Religion. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.