As Thanksgiving Day in the United States approaches, a thought occurs to me. What if this were the only time in the year that we gave thanks to God? How would this affect our lives, and the lives of those around us?
Several possibilities come to mind. First, gratitude would exist only as a ceremonial observance that had little effect in our hearts. We do not give thanks merely to give thanks, but rather as a response to reality. The Bible declares God to be the Giver of "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17). Failure to frequently acknowledge such gracious generosity bestowed by the Maker and Sustainer of our being can only mean that we walk in a darkness that mere ceremonial observance could never overcome. "In everything give thanks, for the is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Once a year thanksgiving would also reveal a great emptiness of heart and soul in us. God made us to be thankful beings, not because He needs our gratitude to fulfill His heart. Surely we please Him by offering thanks, but our Heavenly Father does not require our response to Him for personal contentment. He dwells as a being without any need whatsoever (Acts 17:25). We, however, dwell as beings completely in need of the good grace our Lord continually supplies. As the old hymn declares, "out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again". We continually receive, and thus to experience truth and reality, we must consistently offer our thanksgiving to God. Failure to do so reveals a void that accounts for numerous spiritual and moral (and perhaps even physical) pathologies that plague so many. We were made to receive and to respond to our Father as He gives to us "life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25). Ceremonial thanksgiving cannot fill the void in our hearts caused by lack of gratitude.
We would also fail to bless others if our only expression of thanksgiving occurred on the fourth Thursday of the year. Just as a bitter well poisons, so a fount of sweet water offers refreshing sustenance. The thankful heart does not experience grace merely for itself. Living waters flow to others by the demeanor, attitude, words, and actions of the grateful (John 7:38). A.W. Tozer wrote that "thanksgiving is the sweetener of the soul". This includes the one who offers gratitude, and those around the thankful one who realizes and acknowledges the goodness of God's indescribably generous heart.
Finally, once a year thanksgiving would limit opportunity to glorify the Lord Jesus and His redeeming work on our behalf. Every free gift provided by our Heavenly Father comes to us as purchased by the price of our Savior's lifeblood. This includes our next breath, which graces us as the gift of God. This also includes every good gift. Whether we consciously remember or express it on each occasion, each offering of genuine thanksgiving to God involves the affirmation that Christ died in an agony that secures not only our salvation, but rather all Divine supply and provision. Had the Lord Jesus not received the sorrows of Calvary, we could not receive the freely given gifts of grace that eternally flow from His wounds and His broken heart. Once a year? Oh no, we could never truly honor our Lord by a mere annual ceremonial observance. We rather seek to thank Him now, to thank Him often, and to join the Psalmist in his devotion to eternal expression of the most heartfelt gratitude…
"I will give thanks unto Thee forever!"
Weekly Memory Verse
"Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and truth's sake!"