If you’re anything like me, as soon as Halloween ended, the Christmas decorations came out and the holiday songs were turned up. But before Christmas goes into full swing, there’s a humble holiday called Thanksgiving happening later this week.
And in a culture where you can hardly take your last bite of turkey before rushing off to Target or Macy’s to beat everyone else to the best doorbuster deals, it’s easy to forget the whole point of the holiday, which is to reflect on all we have to be grateful for. So to help us focus on gratitude, here are a few Bible verses to keep in mind as Thursday draws closer:
“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.” — Psalm 9:1
No matter what our situation or circumstance, God has provided for us. He has lavished mercy and grace on us in the work of his Son. If he was willing to die on the cross for us and rise again three days later, how much more is he willing to meet our daily needs? In Matthew 6:30, it’s written, “If God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.”
But just to know it isn’t enough. We need to tell — to testify — of God’s “marvelous” works on our behalf. Part of the definition of being grateful is expressing gratitude. It’s also part of the work of a believer to share what God has done in our lives because every story is unique. In 1 Peter 3:15, it’s written, “If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” — Psalm 34:18
There are holidays when, for any number of reasons, it just isn’t easy — when sadness, hurt, anger, or depression are looming over you. It’s during those seasons we can be thankful God has been there, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
He was broken and crushed for us. He has been there before and he knows what it’s like. In Isaiah 53:5, it’s written, “He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” So now, in our brokenness and despair, he carries us to a place of wholeness and healing.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” — Psalm 100:4
We need to approach God with gratefulness, with humility in response to the magnitude of what he’s done for us. Our gratitude is part of our praise; they go hand-in-hand with one another.
The right posture for our prayer and praise is one of humble thankfulness.
But we shouldn’t approach praise and prayer that way just because it’s the rule or because it’s right. We should do it because it compels us to acknowledge God’s goodness, it jumpstarts a posture of perpetual gratitude and thanksgiving that should ultimately call us to greater exaltation of and adoration for “the giver of lights.”
1 Corinthians 1:4-5
“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way — with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.” — 1 Corinthians 1:4-5
In this passage, the apostle Paul was writing to believers from the church in Corinth. Though he went on to rebuke them for their sinful behavior, he began his letter by acknowledging his thankfulness for his fellow Christians and for the gifts the Lord had already given them.
Paul modeled for us the gratitude we should have for one another, despite the frustrations that sometimes come with relationships. Community — family and friends — are part of God’s perfect design, and we should be grateful for the people he has placed in our lives, for the blessing they are to us and for the opportunity it gives us to be a blessing to them.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7
One of the best ways to trust in God’s faithfulness for tomorrow is to remember his faithfulness yesterday. Paul told believers in Philippi to be transparent about what they need, but also to thank the Lord for all the things he’s already done and the ways he has already provided.
It’s only by doing those things, he said, that we can “experience God’s peace.”
One of the great things about Thanksgiving is it’s a built-in cultural pause — no matter how fleeting — in which we can acknowledge the ways, even in our brokenness or weakness, that God has met our needs. When we see his provision in the past, we can boldly ask and trust he will provide for our needs in the future.
Our gratitude should, as the late author C.S. Lewis put it, fuel our adoration not of the provision itself, but of the One who has faithfully provided it.
“Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this,’” Lewis wrote. “Adoration says, ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.”