The Goodness in Giving Thanks
I hate to admit it, but a few days ago I was running late to work. A security guard locks down all the gates when school starts, and being late is quite an inconvenience. I prayed and asked God for grace to somehow make it in, even though I was sure that would require a miracle on the order of stopping time… but God did for Joshua once, right?
As I approached the parking lot, I noticed the gate was still open and the security officer looked puzzled. As grateful as I was to be able to get on campus, my curiosity was piqued so I pulled over. On the grass was the most beautiful red-beaked, white and black feathered duck. Somehow the strange duck had flown over the 15-foot fence just as the guard was about to lock the gate and now he didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t help but laugh with delight as my heart filled with gratitude for the God who answers prayer in such creative ways!
“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 1 Chron. 13:34
Yes, God is good! November is here, which means cooler weather finally arrives, leaves fall to ground, and we get to bundle up, even if just a little, to sip a warm drink. This month culminates in a day of Thanksgiving. A time when we turn our hearts to reflect on answered prayers, families we love, jobs we have, a church we call home, ministries we are invited to serve in, health that allows us to experience another day, and all those who grace our life in so many ways. God has always instructed His people to be thankful. It’s an instruction that stems from His love for us. He knows that if we look for the good, if we give thanks in all things, it helps our heart to see Him, keeps our eyes open for His works, and protects us from the hardening that ingratitude brings.
Thankfulness isn’t always easy. It may feel like there is more wrong than right in your life just now, or maybe in the midst of all the goodness there is also lack, hurt, pain, or brokenness. God is not unaware of this, but challenges us to be thankful even in hard things. Not because He needs it, but because we do. It takes effort to find the good in hard times, to ask God to show you His presence when you don’t feel it, and then to purposefully be thankful. But it’s worth it. It’s a sacrifice, and it honors God.
“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.” Ps. 50:23
November is also election month in our nation. Not only is it our responsibility as followers of Christ to vote righteously at the polls, we also have the responsibility to pray and give thanks for our leaders. Give thanks for those with whom we don’t agree? Absolutely!
It was during the reign of Nero, the first century Emperor of Rome who tortured and executed Christians, that Paul wrote to Timothy, “First of all, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-2a). Imagine that! Paul didn’t ask Timothy to agree with Nero, but to give thanks and pray. The habit of thanksgiving is more about our hearts than we imagine. Proverbs admonishes us to guard our heart, for from it come the issues of our life. Cultivate thanksgiving this November and let it be a guard in your life.
“O give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name; make known His deeds among the peoples.” 1 Chron 16:8
Did you know your thanksgiving isn’t just for you, but for others too? It is! Giving thanks is a proclamation of the goodness and presence of God in your life. It expresses the reality that you are not on this journey alone, but God is with you and you depend on Him. When I shared my duck story at work, my colleagues laughed and smiled, but they also got to hear about a life lived with God. They got to hear about how the God I serve hears and answers prayer.
For just a moment, they stepped into my personal relationship with Jesus and tasted how good He is in my life. I am convinced that our thanksgiving makes Him known among the people and opens a door for others to taste and see that He is good! Be thankful this November, not only is it a guard for your heart, but it is also an opportunity to proclaim His goodness everywhere you go!