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Second Thoughts About Giving Thanks

There’s a down side to public expressions of thanksgiving.

It’s one thing to privately thank our God for what he gives us individually. It’s also only right that we would publicly, within the appropriate circle, thank him for what we share together. As we saw in our last conversation, acting as if we are entitled to all of the goodness we receive may be a sign that we we’ve been spoiled by unacknowledged mercies (Rom 1:21; Luke 12:12-19).

But there can also be something especially burdensome about thanking God for what he has done for us personally. Down through the years I’ve seen this happen through public expressions of gratefulness around the holiday Americans celebrate today.

Someone thanks God for restored health in the presence of others who are losing ground to a chronic illness. Another stands up to happily express gratefulness to God for the birth of a baby in the presence of those who desperately want a child doctors say they can’t have. The examples are as endless as the inequalities that test our faith and love for one another. Employment/unemployment. Relationships reconciled and broken. Homes bought and lost. Mental health/mental illness. Justice/injustice in court. Joy expressed for sons and daughters returning from war, healthy in body, or troubled in soul, in the presence of those who grieve the loss of their own.

Once again, isn’t this reason to remember that only in Christ can we find perspectives of faith, love, and thanksgiving that are big enough to more than compensate for all of inequalities that we live out in the presence of our God and one another?

Yes, Job said in the presence of his loss, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD..” A little later he also said something like “Shall we accept good from the Lord and not trouble?” (Job 1:20-21; 2:10). Let’s just remember, though, that in the days that followed he just about lost his mind in the presence of friends who acted and spoke as if Job had done something that resulted in his suffering while they sat in their self-righteousness.

Seems that we have reason to think of the hurting one who will overhear what we thank our God for today.

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15 Responses to “Second Thoughts About Giving Thanks”

  1. Your Love Inspires says:

    Thank you Mart… for your well thought out remarks about giving thanks for our blessings. Perspective is always in the eyes of the beholder… love, empathy and compassion is looking through the eyes of another. I have found that sometimes our greatest “blessings” remind us of the sufferings of our Savior… through the trials and pain of our humanity comes our greatest growth on our way to becoming
    “Christ like.”

  2. macsisson22 says:

    May the LORD bless you all and keep you all this day. Regardless of our circumstances let us give thanks to God our creator! AMEN? Thanks for sharing all.

    BTW, as I was correcting a typing error I noticed that the difference between your and our is Y?

  3. DarleneJoy says:

    Well-expressed, Mart. That’s something we don’t often think about. As you said, it is good – and I believe, necessary – to thank God publicly for what He has done in our lives. But that needs to be balanced – and I think ONE of the BEST ways to do this is to thank God for who He is and the aspects of His character that are true regardless of our circumstances. That way, as we empathize with those around us who are going through hard times, we can help them and us to keep our focus on the One who does not change and who is still a good God even when life is not.

  4. plumbape says:

    Hi everyone I’m home!! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!
    Mart your comparisons are so true but there is a positive flip side. For everything any can say that is negative I can quote several things to be thankful for that did not happen. I know that isn’t much consolation but I try doing everything ready for the unforeseen problems, plan on the worst case senario and when it is just the usual task then I’m thankful for all that did not go wrong as well as the thanks I receive for a good job. Don’t get me wrong, I have those days when I should of stayed in bed, lol, but I can take a break and ask the Lord to help me out then go back to correcting the problem. Thanking God for everything! Just smile at everyone and even if someone is rude I thank them or just act as if I didn’t even notice it. It’s all good if it includes the Lord how can it not be!?

  5. poohpity says:

    This morning I was thanking God for all that he is to me. I was thanking Him for being my provider, counselor, safety and when I got to fortress, I have been stumbling over the prophesy of Ezekiel regarding the temple. He then revealed to me the enormity of temple is the enormity of protection He is as a fortress. You know we hardly have a clue how vast our God is, that is what totally awe’s me. We can only comprehend what our human mind can fathom which is so limited. Oh my gosh, our thankfulness can just be that He is mindful of a tiny speck in the universe. Wow!!:) Have a blessed thanksgiving my brothers and sisters!! Smile because somebody loves you so very, very much!!

  6. drkennyg says:

    Last night we had our annual Thanksgiving service. We call it a concert of prayer. During the service the Pastor asks anyone who wishes to speak out loud about their thankfulness is passed the mic. So many hear of each others gratefulness and of course some are lacking in the specific thing(s) mentioned. It seems OK for someone to be thankful for good health when mine sometimes is not so good due to emphysema. I can rejoice in their good fortune with the Lord and be glad for them and myself that things are not worse. It may seem as an affront but it isn’t taken that way. That’s because we all have Christ and our salvation to be thankful for as well as many other things.

  7. daisymarygoldr says:

    Your second thoughts are dead right! At the church where I grew up, we had a unique part of our Sunday worship times. The music and singing session followed with a sermon that specifically highlighted an attribute of God. The scripture portion could be from anywhere in the Bible (i.e. the laws, prophets, poetry, gospels, epistles or Rev) but the speaker concluded it with Jesus Christ such that we learned about God through the life of Jesus (hope this is making sense)…

    Now, here comes the unique practise…we spent an hour or so in publicly worshipping God with our own cognitive words a.k.a offering the “fruit of our lips” (Hos 14:2). It is the same like praying aloud, but this was not the time to ask God for anything but to give Him praise and thanks for His person and for all that He has done for us in Christ…not for jobs or health and other personal physical blessings…but for His spiritual blessings. So, based on the message, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, we took turns one by one to individually praise, worship and thank God for what He has given us but never takes away: Eternal- Life, Love, Joy, Peace, Security and Inheritance!

    (BTW, it was not mandatory that all should participate…some simply remained quiet as their words of worship rose silently from their hearts. Some when they opened their mouths it was like opening a bottle of frankincense…the broken words of undying love wafting from within their broken hearts was pleasing both to us the hearers and to Him, the object of all worship. My personal favorite was “picking-up-sticks Auntie”… this lady’s job was to pick up dried twigs from the jungle, tie them into neat little bundles and sell them to make a living…now I’m really getting homesick with all of this reminiscing…

    “Through Him then, let us (not just on a holiday but) continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that ‘give thanks’ to His name”. (Hebrews 13:15)

  8. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, I loved your very last statement. Consideration, is an expression of love. Sometimes we have little else left to be thankful for other than our eternal promises.

    I have had to learn that each day is the “only” day. If we can make it through another day together, without incident or added troubles we have reason to be thankful.

    I think also that when God sees us his children being considerate, giving to others, being thoughtful in all we do for the express purpose of helping our fellow man. That he too is thankful.

    My love to you all!!

  9. wretch-like-me says:

    Reminds me of a film by Disney called PollyAnna. The sweet daughter of a deceased minister, she came to live with a wealthy sour-puss aunt who controlled the town her father built with not-so-subtle, heavy-handed guilt trips. PollyAnna found joy in all circumstances and throughout the film taught the other characters what her father delighted in teaching her. I recommend it especially during Thanksgiving. Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Perhaps we should remember the story of the widow’s mite.

    Marti, you pose good questions, Can we truly get so caught up in the ‘drunkeness’ of being filled with the Spirit that we ‘injure’ those around us who either don’t know Jesus or havent matured enough to understand that its not about ‘me’? Sounds like we may be splitting the ‘frog-hairs’ on this one. Joy should be contagious enough to conquer all but the hardest of hearts…Am I wrong? Or is Satan just trying to put a ‘perverse damper’ on our joyful thanksgiving?

  10. wretch-like-me says:

    Regardless, I wish all here, a very deeply thankful Thanksgiving. (and the power to resist over-indulgence..LOL) Until tomorrow…
    Stuffed near Seattle

  11. sitsathisfeet says:

    I so agree with the comment that our thankfulness to the Lord should be to who he is, his character. Not our circumstances. And that the Lord is accessible to all who seek him. If he had never done another thing but die on the cross for us, it was more than we deserved ( it was in fact undeserved) and like the stanza of another song … (it was ) More than enough. But, it still amazes me how lovingly he does make provision for us. My prayer for today is that he would instill in me a thankful heart each day.

  12. jbevis says:

    You are so right. Many times I have heard people share how God has done great things in their life without any thought of others in the middle of a crisis. As Christians we should always consider our brothers and sisters in the Lord and try to give thanks to God in a that won’t make them feel like God doesn’t love them just as much as he loves us. I’ve seen cases where someone decided that God didn’t love them and gave up living and serving God because God didn’t answer his prayer the way he did someone else or the way he wanted God to answer. We need to be thankful, but humble and caring.

  13. Gena says:

    Yes we should be considerate of those who might not feel blessed. But we can be a blessing to them too.

  14. BruceC says:

    Very good topic that my wife and I can really relate to with a big “been there, done that”. I, like drkennyg; have emphysema(my fault) and severe arthritis. To hear someone give thanks for their health doesn’t bother me at all; but the countless lectures about the ills of smoking does, as if the lecturer has no sin in their life. My response to that has of late has been a lecture in return or turning away. My wife and I have also heard all the thanks given for chikdren while we have never been able to have any. It quit bothering me a very long time ago; but at times it still aches my wife a little. I remember days when she wouldn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because of the sermon topic and flowers passed out to the moms. I also remember folks who said that maybe it was because of sin in our lives or because she didn’t have the faith to be healed. Her Mom years ago told her that God was punishing her for leaving the Roman Catholic church.
    I don’t mind at all if folks publically give thanks for their blessings. The Lord works in our individual lives in different ways for His purpose so we need to accept that. What many Christian brothers and sisters need to learn is not to stand in God’s place and tell people why they are suffering; especially if it’s not through the fault of their own actions or lack thereof.

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