Last night my son and I were reading Psalm 8 as part of his Confirmation journal work. I was struck by how explicit the psalmist is in expressing thanks, gratitude, and awe of God. I suppose the book of Psalms would have been much shorter without it since there are dozens of expansive Psalms of thanksgiving and praise. Psalm 8 begins and ends with this great Doxology, “Oh Lord, oh Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Then David goes on to express all the earthly, created wonders that show God’s majesty. In Psalm 9 he writes, “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”
I found myself pondering how well do I express my thanks to God on a regular basis? I realize part of my failure in giving thanks is due to my inattentiveness. Being aware takes intentionality. G.K. Chesterton said, “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” I definitely want to be in the camp that takes life with gratitude and not for granted. I want to be mindful of the many little gifts in life to say “thanks God.”
In my pondering, I also recognized that I can hold myself up wanting to get my thanks-giving correct hoping to avoid redundancy. Will God get tired of my repetition? “Thanks for this food.” “Thanks for this beautiful day of sunshine.” “Thanks for my family.” Of course I help myself realize that my concern is ridiculous! Who grows tired of being thanked by the people they love? God doesn’t care about our originality. God cares about our authenticity.
Finally, I recognized that my thanks-giving is too often tied to my emotions - how I’m feeling. In the midst of a bad day, an experience of loss, or a moment of hurt - gratitude often takes a backseat. As we study the life of Paul during our Gospel Road Trip in the book of Acts, I am reminded of all the hardships he endured: rejection, misunderstandings, relational challenges, and even being stoned by crowds! Yet, throughout his ministry he continued to give thanks to God and the people who surrounded him. I would do well to be more mindful of all that I can be thankful for, not just when all is well, but especially when life is not going so well.
In this season of Thanksgiving that is rooted in the gratitude for God’s great provision and the celebration of harvest, may we all be attentive to opportunities to be thanks-givers for the big and small things in life. May we also be better thanks-givers to one another, acknowledging the ways that others bless our lives as a reflection of Christ’s love.