Tag Archives: giving thanks

Now Thank We All Our God

I say this every year, but I’ll say it again: if you really want to express your gratitude, make the focus be who you are thanking, rather than what you are thankful for. You see, the real purpose of thanksgiving is to thank God, period. It’s about God. When we make those long lists of all the things we’re thankful for, it starts to be about us. And that is backwards.

Remember the Pharisee who prayed in the temple? He was loudly proclaiming what he was thankful for. “I thank you that I am better than this tax collector over here…” (Luke 18:9-14, my paraphrase). And yet, it was the other guy, that tax collector in the corner, who went home justified, or ‘made right.’

So this Thanksgiving, give thanks to God. Don’t let the gravy get cold while you force everyone around the table to say what they are most thankful for. Keep the lists short. In fact, that little children’s prayer might be just enough:

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing;
Thank you, God, for everything. Amen.

 

Post-Thanksgiving Post

firstsnowfall10-10-09.jpgI give God thanks for this day, this
day-after-the-day-after Thanksgiving day.
I thank God for a day in which
I can sip coffee slowly.
The sun sparkles on new snow.
The clock ticks comfortingly
at the top of the stairs.
Today I have the luxury
of puttering at my own pace.
That pace says, “Thanks.”

Who You Gonna Thank?

I have seen a lot of gratitude on Facebook during the month of November, as many of my friends participate in 30 Days of Thanks, writing about the first thing for which they are thankful each day. It’s a great exercise, and it warms my heart to see so much gratitude expressed. But something bothers me about this little meme.

At first, I thought it was the limitation of thirty days. What, you aren’t grateful the other 335 days of the year? You have to save up your gratitude for the month of November, only? But that wasn’t it.

Then, I pondered that it might seem just a bit self-congratulatory to announce to the world how wonderful one’s life is every day.  Isn’t this a bit like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who prays, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men…” as he stands in the temple? But that wasn’t it, either.

Today, it hit me as I read Psalm 105, which begins, “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!” All this “I’m thankful for…” floating around Facebook is missing something really important: a direct object.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 106, among many others). Being thankful all the time is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. It helps us stay humble as we recognize the many blessings we experience in life, blessings for which we can take no credit whatsoever. That is important.

But even more important, I think, is remembering that being grateful is all about me and how I feel, while giving thanks is all about the One to whom I owe gratitude.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Happy Thanksgiving.