In a week, most of us in the United States will gather as family and friends around a table and share in the lavish feast we call Thanksgiving.
The tradition of setting aside a day to give thanks extends back to the earliest days of the U.S. The Continental Congress proclaimed a day of national thanksgiving in 1777, and President George Washington proclaimed one in 1789. After 1815, the practice disappeared until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln established an annual national holiday of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday in November.
This tradition is a merciful common grace from God. It’s for our joy! So before the flurry of housecleaning and feast preparation, before we switch into the autopilot of our familiar food and football traditions and the day passes in a caloric, but largely thankless blur, let’s think about the feast of Thanksgiving so that we eat the right things.
The Real Feast
The traditional American Thanksgiving meal featuring turkey and all the fixings that go with it is my favorite meal. Period. That may or may not be true for our American readers. But eating something you love on Thanksgiving is exactly what you should do because Thanksgiving is notabout the feast of food. Thanksgiving is about feasting on the manifold, abundant, overflowing, all-sufficient grace of God in all that he is for us and all that he has done, is doing, and promises to do for us. An abundant, delicious feast of food is intended to be a symbol, a small picture, a momentary experience of what God’s grace is like. It is to help us “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
In other words, the food is meant to fuel our thanksgiving, not be the focus of thanksgiving.
Remember to Say “Thank You”
For Thanksgiving to really be about thanksgiving requires the intentionality of remembering on our part.
We are not, by fallen nature, thankful people. We are naturally very selfish. This was evident when we were children. We didn’t naturally recognize that the thousands of ways we were served by our parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, neighbors, teachers, and others were grace-gifts. It came naturally to us to largely assume that it was their job to serve the all-important us. And if they didn’t, out of our mouths came complaints and accusations that, looking back, we wish we had never said.
We had to learn gratitude. This usually began with our parents. They had to remind us to be thankful. When grandma gave us a gift or we were on our way to our friend’s house, a parent would often say, “Remember to say ‘thank you.’” And there is our condition illustrated: “Remember to say ‘thank you.’”
Being Fake Thankers Is Not Okay
Being reminded to give thanks is very biblical. In the book of Psalms alone we’re reminded nearly 50 times to give thanks. The New Testament also reminds nearly 50 times, including the all-inclusive “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians [5:18]).
God reminds us frequently because weneed to be reminded. But we can tune his reminders out just like we used to do with Mom. And we can do with God what we learned early to do with everyone else: become a fake thanker.
Written by Jon Bloom
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