Thanksgiving is here. It is not only a beautiful day, but season, I might say. The essence of this holiday is to draw us together, to celebrate, to reflect, and to enjoy. We all have our favorite dishes that will be on the table. Perhaps there are traditional activities that we will partake in. Maybe, some of us will fellowship with family that we haven't seen in years. It will look different for all of us, however, one thing will prove the same. Truly at the core of it all is the discipline of giving thanks, something Scripture exhorts us to do.
"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NASB)
Of course, giving thanks is not a one-time-a-year act, but this day magnifies its importance and beauty, and really, this amazing aspect of God's character--gracious, merciful Giver and Provider. Whether it's the aroma of thyme and sage, good conversation around the table, or a significant move of God in our lives, I don't think our thanks can be too big or small. All are gifts from God's heart to ours.
But might I suggest that our thankfulness need not be limited to just the happenings of the day, but rather serve as a catalyst to think back and remember what God has done for us. It is the act of remembering that stirs hope, gratitude, and faith in our hearts as we see God's hand and heart in our lives. David did this very thing when he found himself in moments where he needed fresh perspective:
O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. (Psalm 42:6)
He recalled the faithfulness of God to him, and it gave him courage. I would suggest that David lived a life of thankfulness, as the Psalms reveal his constant praise and gratitude to God for who He was in his life.
This act of remembering is something the Spirit continues to foster in my life. I have often found myself overwhelmed by the goodness of the Father as He reminds me of moments and victories past placed side-by-side to where He has brought me now, and I gain perspective. My whole life, He has been faithful. He has had a plan, He has blessed me. And this is the same for you too. He's been so intentional our entire lives, and He will continue to be. Sometimes, looking back helps us to more fully and richly appreciate where God has brought us. Tangible and intangible, God has provided. Everything is a gift, even the hard moments, for "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28, NASB) Only He can do that.
As I sat upon my couch this morning reflecting, I was reminded of the beauty and importance of a soft heart. What does that mean? I define a soft heart as such: one that is receptive and sensitive to God. It easily recognizes the goodness of the Father and responds. This is the kind of heart I want. The prayer for a soft heart was modeled to me in an amazing community I had the privilege to be a part of for a couple of months, and it has impacted me ever since. If God compares our hearts to soil in the Gospels, then perhaps therein lies a word picture for a soft heart. If you've observed soil that is soft, it saturates easily and retains water, is more malleable, is easier to weed, easier for things to take root in, and and better sustains life. Hard ground is dry, does not produce life, and is impossible to root anything in.
I believe thankfulness and a soft heart go hand in hand, supporting one another. They foster each other. Just as rain falls and saturates good soil that is able to sustain thriving life, may we let the goodness of God permeate our hearts and minds, creating abundant life in us.
So this Thanksgiving and beyond, may we find ourselves not just having a theology of thanks, but actually doing it. May we readily find ourselves giving thanks to God, compelled by a need to respond to His overwhelming goodness. And may we take moments to extend thanks to one another as well, for surely the relationships around us are gifts from His hand.
God's presence floods an atmosphere of praise. He is so worthy of our adoration. Let us find incredible joy in worshipping our incredible God.