That’s why we get monthly bills
I can’t remember Thanksgivings. With nine brothers and sisters, who eventually were bringing spouses and children, you would think every one would be memorable, if only for the chaos and commotion. But my mental record of the holiday as a child and young(er) adult seems to have been erased.
But Thanksgiving is all about remembering isn’t it? We remember all that God has done for us, and given us, and we remember to thank him. Why isn’t it enough to simply thank him once when we receive or acknowledge a blessing or gift and consider our debt of gratitude paid? Why is it important to repeatedly remember and offer thanksgiving and praise for the same things year after year, day after day?
What we have, we received
Is it not because we are so prone to forget that nothing of what we are, have, or enjoy is ours necessarily? We really have no right to anything apart from what God has freely given us. Even the things we have worked for or achieved were only possible because God provided the resources, opportunities, strength, freedom, food and water, and every breath that keeps our minds and bodies working and achieving. “What do you have that you did not receive?” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4.
It’s pretty pitiful, actually, how easily we can become forgetfully smug and self-satisfied in our enjoyment of the good things in our life, yet when pain, trials, or suffering impose on that enjoyment we lay the responsibility at God’s feet, as if he only concerns himself with us when he wants to test or try us.
Here is what you owe
So annual holidays or daily disciplines serve as a reminder that our debt of gratitude is really never paid in full. And our greatest debt was incurred when another was paid off for us, kind of like when we buy a house and the bank pays our debt to the seller but now we owe the bank. Our rebellion and moral failings put us in debt to a holy God but because of his great love for us he paid the debt himself on a rugged cross outside Jerusalem. Now we owe him our eternal gratitude, and our very lives.
Not surprisingly, before Jesus paid our sin debt with his life he instituted a ritual of remembrance . . . bread broken and wine poured. Is this not also a remembrance of thanksgiving for the eternal salvation secured for us by the willing sacrifice of his body and blood?
Be thankful now, grieve less later
I suspect that when we stand before him someday, even those of us with truly grateful hearts will grieve when our eyes are opened to all the ways we were blessed in this life that we should have thanked him for and didn’t . . . when we see why we suffered and what we were spared from and how not getting what we wanted was the very best thing for us.
I don’t want to grieve then nor grieve God now by failing to acknowledge his goodness and love in all aspects of my life. So I resolve to bless him by cultivating a spirit of contentment and joy, “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:20
I pray a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, marked by warm family moments, full stomachs, and fuller hearts bursting with gratitude to the One who makes them all possible.