The food, the family, the warm fuzzes of a sugar coma and lack of schedule…Thanksgiving is a confusing holiday. And with everyone talking about why we should be grateful and how healthy of a practice it is, there’s a lot of pressure to celebrate it correctly.
But sometimes the littlest baby in the family cries or manages to incite attitudes to grumpiness. Sometimes the turkey doesn’t turn out, or the cranberry sauce gets forgotten. Sometimes we’re sad for the family members who can’t be there like soldiers, or grandparents who have cancer.
Sometimes gratitude feels completely counterintuitive.
But that’s exactly its role.
I’ve struggled for most of my life with the concept of gratitude. It’s not that I want to be a grouch or brat; in fact the root of the problem is that there is a guttural, basic desire for thanksgiving that is authentic. But the fact of the matter is, there is nothing within me that has the power to be grateful. That is why I need the gospel.
The headlines for today read, as they have every day since the dawn of time: “He has provided.”
That is something worth remembering, celebrating, and fostering. Because gratitude truly is not a human thing. Lack of contentment with what God has provided goes back to the garden, and by nature humans are greedy and unsatisfied.
So no matter how much I read about 1,000 gifts, 3 gifts a day, or the standard FFH (family, friends, and health), there’s no argument that can convince my will to rejoice. But God’s kindness can. It doesn’t have to feel like a bandaid or a Southern “bless your heart.” The presence of our Lord is transformative, and sometimes we have to sit in that, soak in that, celebrate that (and repeat).
When Solomon finished building the temple, the first ‘permanent’ place of worship for the Lord God that had ever been created, a place for His Spirit to dwell on earth, the most precious thing imaginable and glorious beyond words, Solomon held a dedication ceremony (see 1 Kings 8). He reminded the people of who God is, how He provided for Israel and prayed a ground-shaking set of requests and worship.
After the dedication ceremony was over, and many sacrifices were offered to the Lord, Solomon declared a holiday. A celebration. And this wasn’t just a one-day thing:
So Solomon observed the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the brooke of Egypt, before the LORD our God, for seven days and seven more days, even fourteen days. On the eighth day he sent the people away and they blessed the king. Then they went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had shown to David His servant and to Israel His people. 1 Kings 8:65-66
It seems to me that celebration has the ability to make our hearts joyful and glad (notice it’s not just glad, but also full of joy). But unless our thankfulness is rooted in the presence and provision of the Lord, then it will feel empty. every. time.
So instead of writing another 400 words for you to read, I want to prompt you to spend a few minutes with the Lord if you haven’t already so that He can continue creating within you thankfulness. You could go to a passage that has been meaningful to you this year, and ask God to show you what He would have you learn from it. If you can’t think of a passage, John 3 or any of the psalms are fantastic. If you’re tempted to click away to another website instead, then just stick around and meditate on this portion of Solomon’s prayer:
May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else. Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day. 1 Kings 8:57-61
Joy Knight was a 2014 intern, with degrees in English and Music. She of course loves good books and music, is a minor-league foodie and enjoys the outdoors. She started working fulltime on the Transform staff September 2014, where she seeks opportunities to serve the students and users of Precept through writing and other projects.