(Pastor’s Weekly Meditation for Thanksgiving Week 2010)
In old Anglo-Saxon, to be “thankful” meant to be “thinkful.” Thinking of one’s blessings should stir one to gratitude. Also, thinking of the consequences of unthankfulness should shake us into a refreshed attitude of gratitude.
Think about it: A lack of Thanksgiving is the linchpin, the cornerstone, the foundation of disastrous evils. Read it for yourself in Romans chapter one. A basic outline of the outcome of unthankfulness (1:20-32) goes like this: The first and second indictments—inexcusable ignorance and ingratitude combine to result in people who are not only thankless, but refusing to worship their Creator. Notice the trend in the next four charges: insolence—claiming themselves to be wise without God, they become fools instead; idolatry—exchanging God’s glory for idols resembling mere people, birds, animals, and snakes; immorality—they are guilty of gross sexual deviancy; and the final disastrous evil indicted is incorrigibility—embracing and endorsing wicked deeds.
It’s interesting that even William Shakespeare once said: “I hate ingratitude more in man than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, or any taint of voice, whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood.”
On the other hand, full-blown, heart-embedded Thanksgiving results in the deepest satisfaction and the richest blessing, even to the tune of miracle-working power.
When we give Thanks, we have a choice: Deep, meaningful gratitude or shallow, meaningless clichés. It’s way too easy to say “Thank you” and not mean a word of it. Let’s make a covenant for this 2010 week of Thanksgiving. Every time you are about to “Thank,” stop and “Think.” Ask yourself, can I substitute those words with the definition: “I’m conscious of benefit received?”
Where do I go for thankfulness? Is there a specific source or origin? If gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation are so important, where can I “get some?” Perhaps the following devotional by J. A. Broadus will help you Think and Thank:
Thanks quells brooding. We are all prone, in certain moods, to complain of our lot. Everyone has at some time or other imagined that he or she has a particularly hard time in this world. It is to be hoped that in other moods we are ashamed of ourselves for such brooding. But how to prevent its recurrence? A valuable help will be the habit of thankfulness to God. Then if a brooding spirit arises, in the middle of some complaining sentence we will suddenly express thankfulness and perhaps laugh at ourselves for the folly of such brooding.
Thankfulness soothes distress. Those who are greatly afflicted—and not accustomed to being thankful—sometimes find the memory of past joys only an aggravation of present sorrow. It is otherwise with those who have learned to be habitually thankful. For these, the recollection of happier hours is still a comfort.
Thankfulness helps to allay anxiety. Notice what the apostle says to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God… will guard your hearts and your minds” (Phil. 4:6–7). Notice that we are to prevent anxiety by prayer as to the future with thanksgiving for the past.
Thankfulness cannot fail to deepen penitence. “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Rom. 2:4). When we are in the habit of thankfully recalling the kindnesses and mercies of our heavenly Father, we perceive more clearly and lament more earnestly the evil of sin against him, and what is more, this will strengthen us to turn from our sins to his blessed service.
Thankfulness brightens hope. “I love to think on mercies past, And future good implore.” If we have been accustomed to set up milestones of God’s mercy on the path of life, then every glance backward will help us to look forward with more of humble hope.
Thankfulness strengthens for endurance and exertion. We all know how much more easily and effectively those work who work cheerfully, and the very nutriment of cheerfulness is found in thankfulness as to the past and hope as to the future.
Happy Thinking and Happy Thanksgiving!