A Reason for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. It's the season where we join together with friends and family around a table spread with food. We give thanks for the blessings in our life and recall all the good we've experienced during the year.

Giving thanks in our culture can be trendy. Experts say that having a grateful attitude is good for us. Looking at all the blessings we have in our life makes us realize that things aren't as bad as we think. It changes our perspective, reduces stress, and boosts our mood. For many in our society, giving thanks is simply a feel good exercise to greater self-fulfillment. It's also contingent upon things going right in life. When work is going well, when relationships are thriving, and when hard work is rewarded with success, there is reason to give thanks. But when dreams fail and sickness takes hold and relationships fall apart, giving thanks seems wrong. Hard. Impossible.

For believers in Christ, giving thanks looks a bit different. It's not about self-fulfillment or following social network trends. There's a different reason for our thanksgiving and a different source for our gratitude. It's not contingent upon our circumstances and it's purpose is not to make us feel better. In fact, it's not about us or for us at all.

Five Reasons to Give Thanks

1. God is Creator: We give thanks because God is our creator and sustainer. Each breath we take comes from him. Acts 17:25 says, "nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." Giving thanks acknowledges that we are dust and that everything we have comes from God. It reminds us that we are not our own gods and that we can do nothing apart from God's grace.

2. God is deserving of our thanks and praise: God is holy, righteous, and good. He is worthy of all honor and praise. "I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High" (Psalm 7:17). "Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom" (Psalm 145:3). No matter what is happening in our life, no matter the challenges we may face in our day, there is always a reason to give thanks--because God deserves it. We can thank him simply for who he is. And when we don't give thanks, when we hold back because our life isn't turning out how we'd like it to, we actually rob God of the praise and glory that he is due.

3. Scripture calls us to give thanks: Paul tells us to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4) and to "give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Giving thanks to God is something believers are to do all the time, not just once a year in November and not just when life is going well. Rather, it ought to be the continuous posture of our heart.

4. Because of all God has done for us in Christ: Our greatest reason to give thanks is because we've been brought from death to life. God has shown his goodness and faithfulness to us through the death of his Son on our behalf. Because of Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. The list of benefits and joys associated with having new life in Christ is endless. "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28).

5. It's what we were made for: We were made to worship, praise, and give thanks to God. The Westminster Confession says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Giving thanks is one of the ways we bring God glory. It's also how we enjoy him. The beautiful thing about doing what we were created to do is that it gives us great joy. Knowing God and responding to his wonder and glory by returning thanks for who he is and what he has done brings us deep and abiding joy. It's the kind of joy that anchors us during difficult times, holding us fast when the storms of life swirl around us.

This Thanksgiving, there is much to be thankful for. From our very life to eternal life; from God's goodness to his steadfast love; from Christ's atonement to membership in the Body of Christ; from the wonder of knowing God to the deep joy of being known by him, we have many reasons to give thanks. May giving thanks to our Lord be the joy and posture of our hearts this Thanksgiving and every day throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!