She’s upset about the pandemic, social and political unrest, a struggling economy and job market, a bitter election, severe weather events. And more. So much more. She slips in a paragraph about the fact that she still has her job and her health and the fact that most of the people in her orbit are doing OK. But she’s not feeling thankful, so she’s going to be a Scrooge. She’s going to participate, not in Thanksgiving, but in “Grumpstaking.” And she’s going to eat a lot of pie.
Haha. So funny. So creative. So uplifting. Not…
God’s people do not have permission to not be thankful on Thanksgiving or on any day. In fact, we can’t help but be thankful. If we can’t find reasons in our own lives for which to be thankful to the Lord, God’s Word offers plenty of reminders.
“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, who does not change or shift like a shadow. Just as he planned, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creations.” (James 1:17,18 EHV)
But what about hard times? What about loss? What about not “feeling” thankful?
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 EHV)
What does Thanksgiving look and sound like even in the midst of difficulties? One example: “I am thankful for God’s promise to take those who believe in Jesus to heaven when they die, because I really miss Mom. But she believed in Jesus and I do too, so I’m looking forward to being with her again.”
Or how about saying, “Let’s be honest. My health is failing. And at my age, it’s not going to turn around. Therefore, I’m really thankful for Jesus’ promise to “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21) when he raises us from the dead?”
Or, “Things are tight right now, but I think about Jesus’ promise all the time. The one where he said, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat … or … drink … or … wear?’ … your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33)?
Despite impossible odds and seemingly unending trials his word still reminds us “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).
Martin Rinkart found a way to be thankful. He was a Lutheran pastor in Germany whose entire career spanned the miserable 30 Years War in the first half of the 17th century. One time in his life was particularly challenging. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Plague, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one left the town and the other two died. Pastor Rinkhart officiated at their funerals. As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all that year. In May of that year, his own wife died.
Yet living in a world dominated by death, Pastor Rinkart wrote the following prayer for his children to offer to the Lord:
Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, In whom his world rejoices,
Who from our mother’s arms Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love And still is ours today. (Christian Worship, #610, v. 1)
I can’t wait to sing this hymn tonight at our Thanksgiving Eve service. Join me – in person, or in spirit – in giving thanks to our gracious, generous God. Thank him, not just on the one day that our country manages to observe whatever it is people think “thanksgiving” means. Thank him every day!
To God alone be the glory!
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand