COVER STORY – THANKSGIVING
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (Psalm 107:21-22)
This prayer, drawn from the Psalms, has been a favorite of many a Christian down through the years. As believers have called to mind the Lord’s generosity in providing so many good things to eat and drink, they have united their hearts with the psalmist’s in exclaiming: “Thank You, Lord!” At this time of year we’re especially mindful of the Lord’s mercy. How lavishly our Thanksgiving tables are spread with a veritable smorgasbord of delicacies from His gracious hand! “Turkey and all the fixings,” as they say.
As children of God we know that we have reason to thank our heavenly Father for His cornucopia of blessings not just on a single day towards the end of November, but each day of our lives. In the verse quoted above from Psalm 107 we’re encouraged to do just that. Four times the psalmist’s call rings out: “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (verses 8,15,21,31) We might wonder why he made a point of repeating this thought. He did so undoubtedly for emphasis, because he knew God’s children need this reminder again and again. Aren’t we inclined to take God’s blessings for granted? Isn’t the temptation strong (especially for those living in an affluent culture) to forget that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17) and to begin thinking that the material benefits we enjoy are the product of our own doings and labor? (see Deuteronomy 8:11-17) The result of such misguided thinking is that we may neglect to lift our hearts in praise to the One from whom our blessings flow.
What is the remedy for this spiritual weakness? Let us petition the Lord to give us hearts that meditate on His lovingkindness daily, hearts that remember daily that, were it not for His tender mercy and mighty protection, not only would we not have in our possession any spiritual blessings (treasures like forgiveness for our sins, spiritual life, and the crown of life awaiting us in heaven), but we wouldn’t enjoy any earthly blessings either. The devil would see to it! As Martin Luther wrote in the Large Catechism: “If it were in [the devil’s] power and our prayer (next to God) did not prevent him, we would not keep a straw in the field, a farthing in the house, yes, not even our life for an hour. This is especially true of those who have God’s Word and would like to be Christians.”
Then let us ponder often on the windfall of blessings our heavenly Father bestows on us each day in His undeserved love. For big blessings like the Bread of Life for our soul’s nourishment in His Word, and for small blessings like food for our bodily sustenance. Let’s think of them when we arise in the morning, as we go through our day, and when we lay down our heads on our pillows at night. Let such memories of our Father’s goodness lead us to praise Him both with our lips and with lives of loving service rendered to Him in Jesus’ name.
Oh, may we ne’er with thankless heart
Forget from whom our blessings flow!
Still, Lord, Thy heavenly grace impart;
Still teach us what to Thee we owe.
Lord, may our lives with fruit divine
Return Thy care and prove us Thine.
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.