Friday, November 28, 2014

"Happy and Thanksgiving"

(Thanks to Alison for inspiration on this one)

     In an email several days ago, a dear Orange Moon friend wished us a happy Thanksgiving.  As I read the greeting, a thought flashed in my mind that had never before occurred to me, namely, that "happy" and "thanksgiving" go hand in hand, and heart in heart.

    "Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Psalm 51:3).

   God made the human heart with capacities for gratitude that must be resident and active for His joy to fill and fulfill us.  Had Adam and Eve rejoiced in the gifts God had given rather than lusting for more, they would have rejoiced and obeyed.  If Israel had trusted the Lord's providence rather than longing for the leeks and onions of Egypt, God's chosen earthly nation would have entered the promised land rather than wander forty years in a wilderness.  The Corinthians would have escaped much divine chastening had they maintained the Lord's supper as an observance of grateful remembrance rather than allowing it to degenerate into a self-centered revelry.  We could go on and on with the Biblical record of ingratitude fostering unhappy results in the hearts of God's people.  Moreover, we have our own history of joys and miseries experienced as the direct result of our response to circumstances, conditions, and situations which, at the very least, the Lord allowed for His glory, our benefit, and the benefit of others.  "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).

    Certainly we do not mean to suggest that feelings of happiness will instantly accompany every offering of gratitude to God.  Sometimes we must "sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving" (Psalm 107:22).  The life of faith frequently requires offerings of gratitude as accompanied by tears, and voiced in the cauldron of pain and discomfort.  We may have to wait until the morning, as it were, for emotions of joy to accompany affirmations of thanksgiving expressed during nights of weeping (Psalm 30:5).  Still, a joy beyond feeling graces us deeply within when we give thanks as an act of faith and obedience expressed to the One so worthy of our devotion in all things.  "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me" declared the Psalmist" (Psalm 50:23).  Through Christ, such sacrificial gratitude is possible in those who remember that He dwells within us as One who faced and overcame far more tribulation than we will ever encounter.  "In the world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

   Hand in hand, heart in heart walk happiness (as defined by God) and thanksgiving (as inspired and enabled by God).  A simple greeting illuminated this clearly proclaimed Biblical truth.  Walking it out will not be so straightforward, but as we open our eyes to our Lord's loving involvement in all things, opportunities for gratitude and accompanying joy await us available only to those who join the Psalmist in his determination of faith, expectation, and submission to God…

"I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving."
(Psalm 116:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
    He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence."
(Colossians 1:18)

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