“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” – Psalm 100: 4-5.
What emotions do you feel as you mull over the approaching holiday season? Peace, joy, and thankfulness? There is no doubt this has been a year unlike any other in recent history. We continue to suffer from the unrelenting Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged our country and world since early 2020. We have seen riots and social unrest as our country tries to understand and address the racial and social issues that have divided us for so long. We have endured a long and tumultuous presidential election that has given rise to uncertainties and fears on both sides of the political perspective. It is no wonder that so many of us are carrying the stress and anxiety of these times like a heavy weight around our shoulders. Where does a person find hope when life at times seems so out of control? How can we, as a people of faith, give thanks even in times such as these?
When we give thanks, we bring to mind God’s gifts to us. This, in turn, reminds us of God’s gracious nature. We think, not just of what God has done, but also of who God is. Thus, giving thanks is a beginning, not an end in itself. In the language of Psalm 100, we enter God’s gates with thanksgiving so that we might go into His courts with praise. There’s no biblical rule that states that thanks must always come before praise. But, for many of us, thanksgiving for what God has done leads us to praise God for who He is.
Thanksgiving is a season of being grateful. Thanksgiving reminds us of all the things to be grateful for. One reason that we fail to thank God now for what we have is that we want more – we want the next step. We fool ourselves into thinking that when we get more or when we get to the next step that then we will stop to thank Him. But that suggests we should not be grateful for what God is doing in our lives as part of His plan for each of us. And that means being thankful even when we are facing setbacks.
We should be thankful because God is worthy of our thanksgiving. It is only right to credit Him because “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father,” (James 1:17). Expressing thankfulness helps us remember that God is in control. Thankfulness, then, is not only appropriate; it is actually healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the bigger picture, that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
All of us have a lot to be thankful for this time of year. But not only should we give thanks during the holidays, but we should also give thanks to God every day of the year.
- How is it possible to give thanks even in 2020?
- For what are you most grateful today?