A Revolutionary Act
Giving thanks is a revolutionary act. Thankfulness is not intuitive for us as we sit calculating our wants and needs. On top of our own inequitable ideas of what we deserve, we find ourselves operating in a world crowded with misery and injustice and violence, where our suffering may indeed be the result of someone else’s sin. The innumerable manifestations of wrongdoing proliferate daily and are displayed publicly by absentee fathers, gossip mongers, child pornographers, smooth-tongued liars, hypocritical churchgoers, and a seemingly endless variety of miscreants. The stinging pain of all that sin presses in, trespassing in our homes and families, in our work and worship, in our very hearts and souls. How can we possibly give thanks for days spent slogging through that kind of soul-wearying muck?
We can because the act of thankfulness is the result of God’s work as He remakes our souls. It is the resounding echo of His goodness. We can give thanks in all circumstances, as the Apostle Paul did, because God is good. He is good! His commands are good. His righteousness is good. His justice and judgment are good. His lovingkindness, faithfulness, mercy—good, good, good. His plan of salvation is the best thing we’ve ever heard!
Yes, we do experience suffering in this life. We suffer because of our own wrongdoing, as well as that of our brothers and sisters and grandparents and neighbors. We suffer because this fallen world, fractured by sin, has been marred by the entry of death and decay. We suffer because the kingdom of Christ is pressing forward, and an advancing kingdom requires dedicated service at the battlefront.
Thanksgiving is revolutionary, precisely because it is what our God deserves and what the rebellious refuse to give Him. The ingratitude of the wicked devours their hearts and minds from the inside.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.—Romans 1:21
The children of God, however, see things differently. The pages of the Psalms are thoroughly saturated with gratefulness. Though the emotions of the psalmists run the gamut from deep depression to joyful delirium, we would be hard-pressed to find a page that does not in some way express thanksgiving. Even from the darkest pit of affliction the psalmist offers thanks.
I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness.—Psalm 8
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.—Psalm 30
Our consolation in all our earthly experience is that despite our wayward and rebellious behavior, we have an Advocate speaking for us who can sympathize with our distress. Jesus, the only one who has ever endured suffering that He did not deserve, knows our weakness and has felt our pain. He leads us by His example. Knowing the agony and humiliation that He was to soon endure, He still, at the Last Supper, broke bread and gave thanks to the One who was deserving of gratitude.
Mount a Little Insurrection
This soul revolution, this little insurrection against the narcissistic bent of human thinking, is not so little after all. The satisfying resolution to the dissonance of a thankless existence is found in a song of harmonic praise.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of Every Thought Captive magazine.