Thanksgiving. It's the season where we join together with friends and family around a table spread with food. We give thanks for the blessings in our life and recall all the good we've experienced during the year.
For some of us, it may be hard to think of things for which we are thankful. Life may not be going well. We may be in the midst of deep heartache, a season of suffering, or wandering through a dry desert—with no oasis in sight.
Gratitude isn't only for those who have everything they've ever wanted and whose dreams have all come true. As believers, we are called to give thanks in all things and in all circumstances. If your heart wonders, "What could I possibly be thankful for this year?" consider this list:
Five Reasons to Give Thanks
1. God is Creator: We give thanks because God is our creator and sustainer. Each breath we take comes from him. Acts 17:25 says, "nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." Giving thanks acknowledges that we are dust and that everything we have comes from God; we can do nothing apart from God's grace.
2. God deserves and is worthy of our thanks and praise: God is holy, righteous, and good. He is worthy of all honor and praise. "I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High" (Psalm 7:17). "Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom" (Psalm 145:3). No matter what is happening in our life, no matter the challenges we may face, there is always a reason to give thanks—because God deserves it. We can thank him simply for who he is. And when we don't give thanks, when we hold back because our life isn't turning out how we'd like it to, we actually rob God of the praise and glory he is due.
3. Scripture calls us to give thanks: Paul tells us to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4) and to "give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Giving thanks to God is something believers are to do all the time, not just once a year in November and not just when life is going well. Rather, it ought to be the continuous posture of our heart. When life is challenging, we often wonder what God’s will is. The Bible tells us: give thanks.
4. Because of all God has done for us in Christ: Our greatest reason to give thanks is because we've been brought from death to life. God has shown his goodness and faithfulness to us through the death of his Son on our behalf. Because of Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. The list of benefits and joys associated with having new life in Christ is endless. What we have in Christ is reason enough to give thanks. "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28).
5. It's what we were made for: We were made to worship, praise, and give thanks to God. The Westminster Confession says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Giving thanks is one of the ways we bring God glory. It's also how we enjoy him. The beautiful thing about doing what we were created to do is that it gives us great joy. Knowing God and responding to his wonder and glory by returning thanks for who he is and what he has done, brings us deep and abiding joy. It's the kind of joy that anchors us during difficult times. Even when the sorrows of life cut into our life, we still have joy—a joy even in the midst of our tears because we are known by our Maker and Creator.
This Thanksgiving, there really is much for which to give thanks. From our very life to eternal life; from God's goodness to his steadfast love; from Christ's atonement to membership in the Body of Christ; from the wonder of knowing God to the deep joy of being known by him, the reasons are many. May giving thanks to our Lord be the joy and posture of our hearts this Thanksgiving and every day throughout the year.