A Thanksgiving Message
Our family has a Thanksgiving tradition, and you may have it as well: we go around the table and each person says one thing that they’re thankful for. Like you, our family is thankful for spouses and kids, for new jobs and for health; we’re thankful for new babies celebrating their first Thanksgiving, and we’re thankful for another year with an aging family member; we’re thankful for a country with freedoms and we’re thankful for a church that feels like family.
I think it’s a good tradition. Yes, there’s always one person who can’t take anything seriously (including this) and yes, there’s always another person who takes everything way too seriously. But there is something powerful about group gratitude. Not only do we learn a little bit more about the people we’re related to by blood and marriage, but it also has the power to shift the dynamic of the room. Everyone stops. Everyone listens. Everyone shares in the thankfulness of the other.
The Apostle Paul wrote this: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). We have a lot to be thankful for this year, and it is good and right for us to thank God for spouses, kids, jobs, and health. But when Paul says, “We thank God for his indescribable gift!” he’s talking about something specific. Actually, Someone specific. He isn’t thanking God for things (though he could, and in other places in the New Testament, he did); rather, he is thanking God for Jesus. Or to say it another way, Paul is thanking God for God.
The greatest gift that God ever gave the world was His Son, Jesus Christ – who was (and is) God in the flesh. This is really what Christmas is about: the idea that God became a man (this is what theologians call “the incarnation”). As C.S. Lewis put it in Mere Christianity, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” And although Paul knew nothing of our American holiday on the fourth Thursday of November, I think it’s right for us to talk about Christmas at Thanksgiving. Not because I’m trying to rush past this holiday and get on to the next one; but because our gratitude on this holiday is informed by the next one.
This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to thank God for all of the people and things you can think of. Be specific in your gratitude; articulate and enumerate all of the blessings in your life, because, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17a). But I also encourage you this Thanksgiving to thank God for God. Don’t just thank Him for what he’s given you; thank Him for who He is. The purpose of all of these earthly blessings is not that we become infatuated with the gift as an end to itself, but rather, to draw our eyes up to the Giver. He was the one who gave His Son so that you and I could be rescued from sin and restored to a reconciled relationship with Him. God did all of this to reach us.
We have so much to be thankful for.