Thankfulness…for the Most Incredible Thing!
This month and possibly the next, I thought I’d take a short break from our Disciplines of the Christian Life articles to reflect on some other good and worthy things, and this month being November with Thanksgiving around the corner, it always seems appropriate to address the topic of being thankful. Of course Thanksgiving always seems to be a time when we stop and reflect back on the many things that we are thankful for. For some, this happens in the semi-public arena of the thanksgiving meal table and for others it may happen in a moment of quiet, prayerful reflection. However you give thanks rest assured that this is God’s wish, even His command for you, His adopted child (see Scriptures below).
But what are we to be thankful for? Personally, I’m thankful when my body joints all move in the right way and I can get out of bed – some of you know what I am talking about! I’m also thankful for Suzie’s bakery being right across the street from the office. I’m thankful for the fact that I’ve got to go fishing more in the last four months than I did in the last twenty years in Los Angeles. I’m also thankful for the autumn leaves and brilliant colors that surround us (in LA, we have one autumn color…brown!). I’m thankful for the crispness of the air, a warm wood stove, a wily salmon or steelhead (even if I am having some major trouble keeping them on my line), and the new Panda Express Chinese place in Redding.
Yes, I realize that these are all very superfluous things to be thankful for yet I’m also thankful for the things that are more meaningful, especially people. I’m thankful for my loving and caring helpmate - my wife of 14 years, for my three kids who I love, for family from here to Kansas, and for the many dear friends and saints that we’ve gotten to know at FBCW.
I encourage you all to take a little time and consider what your “thankful” list is. Maybe it’s for God’s provision, the place where you live, the food you eat or the clothes you wear. Maybe you’re thankful for the big things like air to breathe or mountains to gaze at or maybe you’re thankful for simple pleasures, similar to the one’s I’ve already mentioned. In any case, there is no doubt that there is much for each of us to be thankful about, yet can I propose what I think may be the biggest, most important thing to ever be thankful for? It’s both a gift and a miracle…your salvation. The fact that Jesus Christ took your place on the cross, dying for your sins and has saved you from the consequences, namely eternal hell, really makes life and all of the other things in it worth while.
Consider for a minute the thankfulness of the unbeliever. Sure, they may be thankful for life, health, food, clothing and shelter. Of course, they probably are thankful for their wives, kids, family and friends. Yes, it could be that they are thankful for jobs, finances, cars and luxuries. I imagine that they might be thankful even for simple pleasures, but who are they thankful toward? A ‘higher power’ that they really don’t know anything about? Who or what is the object of their thankfulness? Do they even know? I can tell you this, it’s not the God of the Bible. They may as well thank themselves.
So in reality, if unbelievers are not even sure who they are thankful towards, there is no real point to their thankfulness. Therefore, they may say that they are thankful for things but how can you be truly thankful when you have no hope of the future? For those who are apart from Christ, whatever love, peace, joy and thankfulness they seem to have in their life is to some degree a façade, for without hope, everything in life is futile and meaningless. Oh some may think they have hope; they have some ideas in their mind of an afterlife but these are just that, ideas, wishful pipe dreams, a straw house kind of hope and somewhere in their heart of hearts they know this is true because Romans 1 says so clearly they have been given a knowledge of God but have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and are now without excuse (Rom. 1:18-20). What a burden to carry through life!
I met a couple of guys (they we’re actually a homosexual couple who were our neighbors down in Burbank) who were unbelievers for whom it was obvious that the only hope they had was just that, a very uncertain ‘hope of good things to come’ by way of some kind of heavenly afterlife if they were good enough people. Certainly a far cry and a world apart from the Christian’s hopeful promise of what is to come - a promise from the God “who cannot lie (Titus 1:2)” that those who repent of their sins and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ will be saved unto eternal life with Christ. Now that’s something to be thankful for! But again, what is the point of thankfulness for anything in life, if when one dies, one wakes up in the pit of hell, the lake of fire and brimstone, and has only torment, torture, pain and suffering to look forward to for all eternity? Can they truly enjoy the life they have here? Can they truly say they are thankful?
Why do I mention all of this? Am I trying to be a ‘downer’ during this wonderful holiday season of Thanksgiving? Absolutely not, but as you are giving your thanks to the One who deserves it, make sure you thank Him for the most incredible thing, the most wonderful gift you could ever receive or be thankful for…the gift of salvation; the gift that makes all of the other gifts in life worthwhile! Also, along with your prayers of thankfulness, pray for the salvation of others. Pray that God would remove the blinders from those family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors - anyone who hasn’t yet placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that through His grace He would save them. I leave you with four Scriptures to meditate on during this month of thanksgiving…
Psalm 103:2-5 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 106:1 Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.Happy Turkey Day!