It is after Thanksgiving and we are coming to the end of the "30 days of Thankfulness" challenge where every day in November we express on social media something that we are thankful for. But then what? We spend 30 consecutive days once a year saying how thankful we are and then for the rest of the 335 days we remain silent on thankfulness?
I am reminded of a statement that a very dear brother said today. It was something to the effect, "the day after Thanksgiving, is where we focus on Thanksliving."
Thanksliving, I like the sound of that.
Every day on this earth reveals that we have much to be thankful for. Even as I am typing, I am increasingly aware of how much I have been given in this life. I have a roof over my head, a family that I love dearly, the opportunity to serve a church that is filled with extraordinary people and the privilege to share every week through this column. As amazing as those things are, there is one gift that is above them all, the Giver himself, God.
Yes, God is the Giver as it says "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." (Jas. 1:17) and that He will "indeed give what is good." (Ps. 85:12) The goodness of God displayed in his giving is unprecedented. The fact that you or I have life and breath in this moment, the reality that our earth spins at just the right speed and at just the right distance from our sun is enough to prove this point.
We can even go so far as to say that the most God-hating person among us has some semblance of happiness in this world and that is evidence of a God who freely gives. God is a giving God and for Him to display, what theologians would call "common grace," is absolutely remarkable.
Yet God himself is the supreme gift. We read texts concerning Jesus Christ (who is God in the flesh) that he "gave himself for our sins to rescue us," (Gal. 1:4) "he gave himself to redeem us...purifying us" (Titus. 2:14) and who gave up his life "as a ransom for all people." (1 Tim. 2:6)
It isn't just enough to have the material provision that God provides when God freely offers himself and provides us what every single person on earth needs, real intimate relationship. It was Blaise Pascal who wrote "that every person has a God-shaped hole in their heart." And for the Christian, I can personally testify, that the missing relational piece has been so overwhelmingly filled by Christ.
Why is looking at God being the supreme gift so important? As noted before, it boils down to relationship. For example, the Christmas season is upon us and for many we have been or are getting ready to purchase gifts for our family. Now, if my family only focused on the presents under the tree and not the one who purchased the gifts (namely me), how would that make me feel? To put it succinctly, what makes a gift special is not the gift itself rather the person who gave the gift. It is in God's nature to give in order that the focus and attention not land squarely on the gift itself but on Him, who gives abundantly.
Getting back to my friend's statement on Thanksliving, for the Christian this is not just an option for us rather this is mandatory. As a matter of fact, this is indeed God's will for our lives. In 1 Thess. 5:18 it says, "...giving thanks in all circumstances, this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." So in other words, thanksgiving is not regulated or confined to one point of the year rather it is to be a continual experience for as long as we live regardless of circumstances.
How do we do this? We focus on God and everything that He is and yes, what He has done for us in Christ. We celebrate all that He has provided not just the physical life we enjoy, but forgiveness, hope, love and all the blessings of being in a right relationship with Him. What does it look like on a day to day, moment by moment basis? It looks like the experience of indescribable joy because we received the infinitely precious treasure, God himself. If we have God, what more could we ever ask for or need?