This weekend is the celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving. Most of you will be busy preparing to lead others in various ministry settings, but will also hopefully find the opportunity to gather with others, reflect on God’s goodness, and enjoy food and fellowship together. For some of us, Thanksgiving has become synonymous with the words family, food, fellowship, and football (I admit it!), but to fully appreciate the occasion and optimize the impact of the weekend as followers of Jesus, may I remind us of the importance and power of the word “thanks,” or similarly, “thankfulness?”
Not long ago, my favourite football team, the Seattle Seahawks, tried to copyright the number “12” which is the symbol for the Seahawks great fan base, who are viewed as the 12th man on the field. The 12th man supports the eleven who are actually grinding it out each moment on offense or defense. Similarly, I read of a US businessman who sent a book for copyright titled “A Million Thanks.” It was to be a gift to his friends and customers, and the text was simply the word “Thanks” repeated a million times. He received the book back with the message “No thanks” because a single word could not be copyrighted! What a ridiculous thought that a person or organization could copyright a common word or number in the English language!
The word “thankful” cannot be owned by any one person but should be a regular part of daily life for everyone, especially those who know Christ. The apostle Paul certainly drove this point home to the churches of the New Testament, emphasizing thanksgiving as one of the most important marks, practices, and responses of those who call themselves believers. “IN everything give thanks” (I Thess. 5:18). “FOR everything give thanks” (Eph. 5:20).
It’s easy to give thanks for things that bless you and encourage you, but what about things that test you and discourage you? All of us want to give God thanks when he answers our prayers, but what about when he seems silent? Thanks is easy when you’re glad, but what about when you’re mad? When things are going well, you’re naturally thankful and hopefully express it, but what about when things aren’t going so well, when the going is tough, and when there are more questions than answers?
Even in the difficult times, amidst the questions, when your emotions tell you otherwise, giving thanks to Christ is one of the most important things you can do, yet it may not be your first thought. Why is it so important, so transforming, so dynamic to give thanks when circumstances make you want to complain instead?
For one, it shows you trust Christ, whatever the circumstance. Second, it enables you to live with contentment, when your natural tendency would be to want more, or want what you want. Third, it keeps you in that all-important posture of humility before Christ so that your eyes stay fixed on Him and on the many promises He has given you.
Living daily with regular doses of thankfulness expressed to Christ, with an attitude of gratitude, will allow you to live a transformed life because even though your thanks may or may not change the circumstance itself, it will change YOU!