by Brian G. Bettes
What am I thankful for? I am thankful that I have been given more than I deserve.
In the United States of America, we just celebrated a national holiday called Thanksgiving. Summarizing the history of the day briefly, it is a day on which, in the fall of 1621 A.D. the Plymouth colonists, the remains of a group of religious separatists from England, hosted a three-day feast with approximately 90 Native Americans.
At least two of the Native American Indians (and maybe more) had helped the Pilgrims survive in the New World environment in which they found themselves completely unprepared to inhabit. Only 50 of the 102 colonists that left England on the Mayflower survived the harsh, cold winter of 1620 and were still alive to celebrate what we call “the first Thanksgiving.”
In a brief research of the day, there are clearly differing views of exactly who was there, what occurred, what was eaten, and many of the “facts” surrounding the day. However, it is widely accepted as a matter of history that the event did occur. For the Plymouth colonists at least, a day of Thanksgiving became an annual occurrence from that point forward.
A day of Thanksgiving was acknowledged by way of proclamation by every President of the United States starting with George Washington until Abraham Lincoln, who made it a continuous annual national holiday in 1863. Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a time where we give thanks to God for the many blessings of life, abundance, and freedom that we enjoy in this country.
My question is, in all of this giving of thanks, are we thankful to our Father and Jesus Christ for being Them; who They are, what They are doing on this earth, and Their way of life that has been handed down to us through the Word of God? Are we thankful to God for His righteousness, and for revealing that righteousness to us?
Let’s think about that for a moment. Did God have to create mankind? God being who He is, why would he subject Himself to the injustices of a humanity who largely does not acknowledge His existence? Of those who do, they do no keep His commandments, or worship Him in the manner in which He prescribes. Why would God, who has everything without us, do that to Himself? Well, as explained in previous blogs, articles, booklets and other literature, as well as Armor of God internet casts, God has a plan whereby He is reproducing Himself through mankind. God has a plan to expand the God-kind via mankind (Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 8:14-17).
Mankind, after cutting himself off from God, realized that of and by himself, he is patently insufficient on his own. Since he rejected God (Genesis 3:3, 5), and God consequently separated Himself from mankind (Genesis 3:22-24), mankind started searching for a replacement for God. Since then, mankind has come up with every possible concept that his feeble imagination could produce to be his god. The problem is, that is exactly what every form of worship, every religious system, every set of beliefs regarding a god, and every ideal about God that man has ever come up with has been; a false god that is not God.
In reality, there only ever has been, is, and will be, one God—the One who calls Himself the Creator of heaven and earth! God makes clear, definitive statements to that effect in the following verses: Isaiah 45:18; 43:10; 44:6. Every other god or belief system that man has devised since leaving the Garden of Eden has been a cheap imitation as a replacement for Him! It was built into man by his Creator to have an inherent need for a power greater than himself to try to make sense of the world around him. By looking at history, he apparently also needed “someone” (besides himself) to blame when things didn’t go the way he wanted them to. What does all this have to do with thankfulness?
Romans 1:21-23 says that mankind at one time knew God, but he did not glorify Him as God, nor was he thankful to God. As a result his heart became foolish and darkened. While claiming to be wise, he became foolish and he transferred the glory of the One True God to mankind and creature likenesses (idols) of every kind.
Then it says: “For this cause, God also abandoned them to uncleanness through the lusts of their hearts, to disgrace their own bodies between themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie; and they worshiped and served the created thing more than the one Who is Creator, Who is blessed into the ages. Amen” (Romans 1:24-25, emphasis mine).
See, as stated above, there only has ever been One True God. And He alone gets to determine how He is to be worshiped. He is very clear that He will not give His glory to any false god or idol (Isaiah 42:8). As a matter of worshiping Him, He is clear that there is only one path to salvation and an eternal relationship with Him. That is by His forgiveness of our sin, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10-12).
I typed the word “thankful” into my Firefox browser and this is what I found out. Along with the concept of being pleased, grateful, and appreciative, thankfulness also includes an element of relief.  The relief is typically associated with an impending problem or difficulty that has been averted, or with one that has been lifted.
So, as a part of our thankfulness to God, do we thank Him for the relief from sin, and its consequence of eternal death, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Are we thankful to our Father for providing a path whereby the problem of sin has been resolved so that we can have eternal life instead of eternal death?
How much do we recognize and acknowledge God in our lives? Or are we like most of mankind who does not glorify Him as the above Scripture so clearly points out? Are we being thankful to Him for His presence in our lives, His grace, His mercy and forgiveness? Do we stand out as different than most of mankind by actually living thankful lives? When we are thankful, are we thankful only for “stuff”? Or are we thankful for being created, for His plan in creating us in His image and what that means for us? Are we thankful for Him being willing to provide the path to salvation and eternal life? And are we thankful to Jesus Christ for being willing to shoulder the mantle that provided that path by His death? Are we thankful to our Father for being faithful in resurrecting Jesus? Or do we take these things for granted after years of being a part of the body of Christ?
I would encourage each of us to really think about what we are thanking God for on our day of Thanksgiving—which really should be every day. When I think on these things, I am forced to realize that truly I have been given more than I deserve (Psalm 103:10-14)!