Thanking the Source

Thanksgiving is a unique holiday. It celebrates an attitude rather than a person or event. A big part of it entails a big bird, yes, and stuffing ourselves with lot’s of scrumptious food. My family carries a tradition of going around the table and acknowledging the blessings in our life, both big and small, “I am thankful for family…friends… good health…etc.”

This year, was slightly different. Before we prayed and blessed the food–our mouths watering with anticipation–my dad took a moment to read a message written by a friend of his, which sprinkled a different flavor on our “thanks giving” this year:

“Thanksgiving…is a day set aside not just to stuff ourselves with turkey, but to find in our hearts a moment to thank the God who provides that food, and every other grace from which we benefit.” ~Richard Green, DDS, MBA

Rather than merely giving thanks for the blessings, we were reminded to thank the Blesser. A simple and subtle shift and yet a profound and powerful one isn’t it? I think back to all the years my family sat around the table and named all the “things” we were thankful for in our lives. We might have assumed the thanks was directed at God. It might have been a “given” in our minds. But imagine receiving a really special gift from someone you love and not saying thank you to them directly – the person who went to great lengths to select, buy and wrap the gift. Not that the person would expect this recognition in return, but it’s a nice gesture when one’s efforts and thoughtfulness are recognized.

In the same way, my dad reminded us this year of the importance of not only being thankful but directing our thanks at the Giver of our blessings. God doesn’t need recognition or expect it from us. He gives freely without cost, without any strings attached. But He deserves recognition. I’ll even venture to say he enjoys it. It pleases Him when His children turn to acknowledge Him in gratitude and appreciation and say, “Thank you Papa, for these gifts that came from You.”

I love how Henri J. M. Nouwen puts it,

“Gratitude…goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift… it is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all that I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

As we eat cold pumpkin pie for breakfast and turkey sandwiches for lunch, and as we lay around watching football and spending time together with those we love, may we never forget the God from whom all these blessings flow. May we remove the focus from ourselves and direct it towards the Author and Creator of our souls, the Provider of all our needs big and small. May we heed Nouwen’s words, to see “all of life as a pure gift… to be celebrated with joy.” And as we do this, may we identify with the late Dr. Harold Wirth, who said: 

“I feel full of vim, vigor, vitality…a sense of well-being, youth, enthusiasm…and feel very, very, very prosperous.”

As I reflect this November on all the great blessings God has given me –health, special friendships, a loving family, a roof over my head, a vocation I am passionate about, a desire to learn, grow and know Him more intimately, and much much more– I can’t help but get down on my knees, lift my head and heart heavenward and give a glorious shout out to the One who deserves all the credit, “Thanks be to You, my God.”

PSALM 136 (1-9, 23-26)

Give thanks TO the Lord, for he is good…

Give thanks TO the God of gods…

Give thanks TO the Lord of lords…

to him who alone does great wonders…who by his understanding made the heavens… who spread out the earth upon the waters….who made the great lights…the sun to govern the day…the moon and stars to govern the night…He remembered us in our lowly estate…and freed us from our enemies…he gives food to every creature…

Give thanks TO the God of heaven…

His love endures FOREVER.”

Amen!


 

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One Comment on “Thanking the Source

  1. An attitude of thankfulness is something that seems to lie just outside of our grasps. I know that I can tend to be a negative person and focus on what’s not going great instead of the blessings which are all around me. Thank you for reminding me that I need to have an attitude of gratitude!

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