Giving Thanks & Thanksgiving

Dateline: 20 November 2006

Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday because it is a day set apart to give thanks to God for His blessings. As far as I know, Thanksgiving is the only purely American and purely Christian holiday. It has Pilgrim beginnings and Biblical validity. It stands as a historical check against those who would remove America from it's Christian foundations.

I may be wrong (and you may correct me if I am), but I do not see anywhere in scripture where we are told to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (Christmas). Nor do I know of anywhere where it says to celebrate his resurrection on a special day (Easter). I don't say that to downgrade either of those holidays because both of them are edifying and, if properly celebrated, give glory to God. My point is that the Bible is chock full admonitions to give thanks to God.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalm 100:4

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto his name.”
Psalm 92:1

In 1 Chronicles 16 we find this event:

Then on that day David delivered first his psalm to thank the Lord......

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a good time to take a journey of thanksgiving through God’s word. Look up the words “thanks” and “thanksgiving” in a concordance and read all the verses. There are many. You will find mention of the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with thanksgiving.
Psalm 107:22

A holiday like Thanksgiving is hard to commercialize, as is done with Christmas, but that doesn’t stop the commercializers of our modern culture from trying. Such is to be expected. Let them do as they will with the holiday. In my home, in my family, we will follow the lead of scripture as given in Psalm 18:49...

Therefore will I give thanks unto thee O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.”

Last Sunday, my pastor, Dale Weed, spoke about having an "attitude of gratitude" and the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and we sang songs from our hymnals about thanksgiving. One song, written by Swedish-born August Ludvig Storm in 1891, was my favorite. Each line of verse begins with the word, “Thanks.” You will notice that the author does not limit his thanks to God only for the pleasures of life. This song, this poem, is truly a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and dreary fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace the none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav'nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks thru all eternity!

I think that giving thanks to God is almost as natural as breathing for a Christian who understands his place and purpose in this life, who comprehends even a little about the nature of God, who embraces the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and who, in the midst of a troubled world, rests in the promises of the Lord.

May God bless you, my dear reader, with a thankful heart this Thanksgiving day, and every day thereafter. Let us be mindful to give Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving that He so richly dererves!

In short, Happy Thanksgiving!


P.S. Last year around this time I wrote an essay titled Pilgrims And the Christian Agrarian Exodus of 1620. If you have not read it, I recommend it to you.


Sean Carter said...

Its thanksgiving and there is fun and frolic all over but in all these merrymaking let us not forget the real purpose of the occasion. Lets all kneel and thank God for all that He has showered on us and for this beautiful life that he has graced us with. On this note please do visit my Thanksgiving Blog sometime and share some more of the Thanksgiving spirit. Have a great Thanksgiving!!

robert said...

Thanks for posting August Storm's fine hymn. (Today is the 147th anniversary of his birth.) I agree that what makes the song special is the inclusion of things such as storms, and thorns--painful and difficult things--that life can bring our way.

"In everything give thanks," the Bible says (I Thess. 5:18). Why? How? Because God is able to work in "all things" for our good and blessing, and for His glory.

If you enjoy the history behind our hymns, I encourage you to visit my daily blog on the subject, Wordwise Hymns. And Happy Thanksgiving to you, as well. (We Canadians had our Thanksgiving Day nearly two weeks ago.)

William Boyd said...

Hear it: