Modern social media is not all bad. Sometimes it produces some good ideas.
One of those, common in the month of November, is for individuals to make an especial effort to singly list, each day, something or someone for which they are thankful.
It’s good to make such lists because not only do they remind us of the fact that we have many things for which thanksgiving is appropriate, but they also force us to think in a positive, constructive manner; which is a healthy sort of thing to do, mentally.
The Bible is full of encouragements to be more thankful. The word “thank,” and variations of the same are used at least 139 times in the Bible, most often with the thanks being directed at God. (The related word “praise” is used even more often, but for the moment we will focus specifically on the thanksgiving aspect of praise.) The Book of Psalms is one of the biblical books most focused on being thankful, with specific commands or examples of thanksgiving occurring about 36 times, in 24 different Psalms. That is, to put it another way, one out of every six Psalms pointedly reminds us to be thankful.
So, we might ask, what do the various Psalms encourage us to be thankful about?
The 107th Psalm, which begins the fifth division of the Book of Psalms, is almost entirely devoted to the theme of Thanksgiving, and begins this way, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1; ESV) The goodness and the love of God should elicit thankfulness in those who are aware of both. To put it another way, we are thankful both for who God is (His goodness) and for what He has done (His steadfast love and mercy).
In that Psalm, the writer recounts multiple ways in which God has saved men, guided men, prospered men, and forgiven men, and repeatedly the psalmist enjoins, “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” (eg. Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31) Having described the goodness that God has shown man, the Psalm also advises, “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.” (Psalms 107:43)
As we meditate upon God, we should be mindful of His loving nature. And being mindful of it, we should be thankful. This loving, merciful nature has been expressed by God, to man, in multiple ways, and for each of these “works” of God, the wise man is again thankful.
One of the specific works of God, pointed to in the ancient Psalms, is the triumph of Christ at the cross (eg Psalms 2, 22, etc.). The Psalms are full of messianic prophecies which showcase the fact that God was at work to redeem men from their sins, and had a plan to do so, long before Christ set foot upon the earth. One of these, Psalms 30, foreshadows the resurrection of Jesus, and the deliverance of God’s servant from death. For this act of salvation, the holy ones of God are encouraged, “Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.” (Psalms 30:4)
When we think about all the things God has done for us, our food, shelter, clothes, family, friends, jobs and the like; one thing should stand out above all others: God has acted in love and mercy to provide a way for men to be saved from their sins. There is a judgment awaiting men for their rebellion against God, but in Christ, there is forgiveness available. So eager was God to save us that He willingly allowed His Son to face pain and death on our behalf. Even were we to lose all our other blessings, this one thing would more than show that God cares eternally for us, for in Christ there is an eternal place of safety available, a home in the heavens, not built by hands, in which men can abide in joy forever. Truly, when we remember what God has done for us in Christ, we should agree with the ancient who wrote, “So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever.” (Psalms 79:13; NKJV)
The church of Christ invites you to join us in giving thanks to God for the gift of His Son. Won’t you please join us for worship and study at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, OH.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.