Beloved in Christ,
For the Daily Record Saturday Religion page on Nov 21, I was asked to write an article on “A Spirit of Thankfulness”. And then on Nov 25th we had Thanksgiving Day. It is good and right that we as a nation set aside one day a year as a National Day of Thanksgiving, but for Christians, every day is a thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a way of life. The spell-check on my computer does not like the word “thanksliving”, but I think “thanksliving” describes well the Christian life.
Around Thanksgiving time, perhaps even around the turkey dinner, people will ask each other, “What are you thankful for?” And folks will say, “Family and good food, warm clothes, a roof over our heads, a car that works, perhaps even football. (I admit it: I’m a big fan, even if it may not be a great year for our Seahawks.) As the pandemic wears on, but things are gradually becoming safer thanks to life-saving vaccines, I am very thankful to see people in person once again.
“What are you thankful for?” It’s a great question and an important question. It helps us stop and be grateful for all the good people and things in our lives, rather than taking them for granted. But I always think that an even more important question is, “Who do you give thanks to?” We may, rightly, give thanks to the cook for a delicious dinner. We may, rightly, give thanks to certain people who give us Christmas gifts. But ultimately, God is the source of everything good in our lives. We don’t want to stop short of offering thanks and praise to the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of everyone and every thing. We always want to give thanks to God. Even, and especially, in the midst of great hardship, we know that Almighty God is with us and loves us.
“A Spirit of Thankfulness”: my mind went quickly to Jesus healing 10 people with leprosy in Luke 17:11-19. Ten people with leprosy cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” In that day, the priests examined peoples’ skin to determine whether or not they were “clean”. You know the story. As the ten went, they were made clean. This is a whole new lease on life for these guys. They won’t die prematurely of a disfiguring disease. They can live with their families and friends again and be a part of regular society again. This is huge!
“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.” Jews, like Jesus, and Samaritans generally didn’t have much to do with one another. But Jesus was always lifting up foreigners, poor people and marginalized folk as examples of great faith. Jesus said to the one, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
The Samaritan knew that it was Jesus who healed him. He didn’t just say, “Well, I’m thankful for healing” to no one in particular and keep walking. He came back and knelt at Jesus’ feet and gave thanks to God through Jesus for his healing. Who do we give thanks to?
Let me side step here for a moment. Clearly, I’m not saying that if we just pray hard enough and thank God enough we will be healed of all bodily ailments. This is especially true with Covid-19. I will say, “Thank you God for giving us life-saving vaccines and dedicated scientists and health care workers!” I have known a number of faithful Christians in my lifetime who have suffered for many years with illnesses or disabilities of many kinds and they still were constantly giving thanks to God.
Who do we give thanks to? Christians clearly give thanks to God for every good thing in life. We become even more grateful when we consider that Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth and gave his life to forgive our own sin and the sin of all humanity. Then God raised Jesus up from death to life eternal with the promise that all who believe in Jesus, shall also life with Jesus in this life, and forever in the life to come after death. This is huge!
What are you thankful for? Who do you give thanks to?