by William J. Stewart
Happy Thanksgiving! While looking at the history of Thanksgiving, I was intrigued to find the following:
On Thursday, January 31, 1957, the Parliament of Canada proclaimed: A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed— to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October. (wikipedia.org)
Many are more than ready for the family gatherings, the turkey dinners, the football games, the festivals and other such things, but are we focused on giving thanks to Almighty God?
We don’t need the Canadian parliament to tell us that we should give thanks to God, nor do we need a particular day set aside once each year to do so. We ought to be giving thanks to God every day, for He showers His blessings upon us every day. Let’s look at a few thoughts from the Psalms on thanksgiving.
For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grace who will give You thanks?
In the midst of a Psalm lamenting the troubles he faced in life, and his own inadequacy without God, this thought occurred to David—there is no occasion to give God thanks in the grave. May we never get so wrapped up in the things we face in life that we fail to see the goodness of God, and praise Him for it. We need to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving in our lives, so that whether things are going well or we are facing struggles, we express our gratitude to the Lord.
Just a few verses later, we read:
The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. (Psalm 6:9)
Friend, David’s enemies didn’t disappear as he was writing this Psalm. They were still there. But David had the confidence that God heard His prayer and would answer. He experienced the comfort of God spoken of by Paul:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
May I say that if we are too busy, too worried, too distracted—whatever it is (insert your own word) – to worship God and express our gratitude to Him in the here and now, we’ll not have the desire nor the opportunity to when we come to the then and there. Our relationship with God must be established and exercised in this present life.
I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will raise You among many people.
There are some great statements of faith made in this Psalm by a man in the midst of troubles. He speaks throughout about those who fight against him, who seek his life, who testify falsely against him, who repay him evil for good, who rejoice when he is persecuted and exalt themselves. But notice his focus on the LORD:
- “Plead my cause, O LORD” (v 1)
- “…say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation’” (v 3)
- “…my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation” (v 9)
- “All my bones shall say, ‘LORD, who is like You, delivering the poor…” (v 10)
- “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise you among many people” (v 18)
- “Vindicate me, O LORD, my God, according to Your righteousness…” (v 24)
- “Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, ‘Let the LORD be magnified…’” (v 27)
- “…my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long.” (v 28)
When facing difficulties in life, we can do so with the same confidence; God sees what we are going through, He will deliver His people. But even when the trials and conflicts and issues are all around us, we need to take time to express our thanksgiving to God “…in the great assembly … among many people…” We need to gather together with God’s people to worship the Lord. This is another avenue of strength which God provides for us—fellow believers. And it affords us a public opportunity to express our faith in the Lord (and to see and hear others do the same).
There are several Psalms which call us to come together to express our praise and thanksgiving to God (Psalm 92:1; 95:2; 100:4; 116:17; 122:4; etc.). Friends, He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving.
PSALM 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31
Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107 is an amazing text. Over and over, the writer calls upon the redeemed to give thanks to the LORD, and verse after verse, we are reminded of the reasons why we should be thankful to Him.
- He has redeemed us from our enemy and gathered us together as His people (v 2-3)
- Our own way is characterized as wandering in desolate places, being hungry and thirsty and in distress. God delivers us from such (v 4-7)
- Longing souls are searching for satisfaction—only the Lord is able to bring true satisfaction (v 9)
- Our own way is characterized as darkness, a way of affliction and a path of rebellion. It leads to distress and trouble. He is able to deliver us from the darkness and the chains that kept us bound (v 10-14)
- Though we have immersed ourselves in sin, and approached the gates of death, He has the power to remove our sin and save us from death (v 16-19)
- Verse 20: “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”
- Given all that God has done for us, it is right that we give thanks for and declare His goodness. We ought to be perpetually aware of the wonderful works of God—all of creation shows the power and goodness of God (v 22-25)
- When we are going through trials, don’t follow the path of those without hope—going down to the depths, reeling to and fro, staggering about, being at our wits’ end. Rather, call out to the LORD, for He is ready to deliver us from our distresses. He can calm the storms of life and give us comfort and safety (v 26-30)
- Public worship is important—we should exalt Him in the assembly. God will bless us according to our works, therefore, let us serve Him with diligence and enjoy His blessings in our lives (v 32-42)
- Verse 43: “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will
understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”
May we indeed give thanks to Almighty God for His goodness to us, not just today, but every day. He is worthy.