Thanksgiving is a season of thankfulness. And while we as Christians have much to be thankful of, are you aware of how thankful you should be of thankfulness?
We should give thanks to God because he is a God who has worked mightily for our salvation (Ps 9:1-2, Ps 75:1). In fact it is exactly the act of not being thankful for God's salvation that will cause many people to perish: "For although they knew God, they did not honor God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Rom 1:21). Thankfulness for the gospel is one of the signature seals of a true Christian, and an absence of it is the sign of a dead heart.
This issue of "gospel thanks" is of chief importance to us as humans. We are not temporary creatures, but will live eternally either in damnation or glory. Being an eternal being we can only truly be satisfied by God's eternal holiness. George Swinnock puts it this way, "the soul cannot enjoy any perfection of happiness unless it is proportional to its own duration." Our eternal soul is only fully satisfied by God through the wonderful salvation given us in Jesus Christ.
But Wait, There's More!
Yet I would propose that it is exactly this big picture thought which allows us to have a greater thankfulness in the smaller things. Think of it this way: A fine French chef probably takes less joy in a junior bacon cheese burger than your average college student. Why? Because his pallet has been refined for a "higher taste." He has tasted the pinnacle of Flavortown and would rather stay at that level for obvious reasons. With that in mind, how wonderful is it that a holy and divine God, the author of all perfection, would allow his eternally minded, blood-purchased, people to find the immense joy and satisfaction that comes through...pumpkin pie.
The pallet of our heart has been trained through Christ to long for the greater glory which will one day become our reality. But at the same time God has allowed his infinite creatures to find joy in finite things: football, friends, family, stuffing, snow and tryptophan. How wonderful is our God that he has allowed us to be thankful in the lesser things! God would have been completely right and just to have given us the divine foretaste of redemption through Christ and simply allow our hearts sit longingly for that day when we see him face to face, incapable of finding joy in anything earthly. But he didn't.
In light of God's greater grace, the gospel, we can become even more grateful for the lesser graces. They are gifts, given to us by a loving and wonderfully complex Creator. We Christians should be the most thankful for the big things (i.e. salvation) but we should also be leaders of the charge in thankfulness for the simple things. We should be thankful not only because we ought to be, but we should be thankful because we have been allowed to be!
No More Vanity
The book of Ecclesiastes is one of the strangest books in the Bible. Written by Solomon, the great King wants to show the trivial nature of existence. It provides a portrait of a life without God, written from the perspective of Solomon's apostate (the season in Solomon's life when he stopped following God). In the book Solomon, who was the richest man to have ever lived, points out the emptiness of relationships, riches, parties, food, sex...etc. Yet the ray of hope which stands bold in his present darkness is this: "Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart" (Ecc 5:19-20). God is in the joy business.
God's gift to us is his son, and we should never seek to be thoughtless on the gospel. But we should also never be thoughtless on the lesser joys God has granted us. Because as Solomon just highlighted, it is not the worth of the object which grants us gratitude, but the mercy of a generous God who has given us a pallet for joy. This Thanksgiving, give thanks for thankfulness.