In the most expressive language on earth, Greek, there are six different words that express the thoughts of thanksgiving. Our national holiday next week includes the thoughts of to thank, give thanks, being thankful, possessing thankfulness, doing thanksgiving or to be a thankworthy person. All of us, I'm afraid, are deficient in each definition. Most of us will have our "special meal," many will enjoy family or the children, some will be alone but not necessarily lonely. Sure, all will be thankful for something, but I suspect that a majority will not review their self-centered attitude or make reforms in their lives to praise and please the Giver of all we are and have or will be.
Those of us who profess to trust and follow the Lord Jesus should be the most thankful people on earth! Giving thanks and praise for God's blessings is used more than 500 times in the Scriptures. Even the Savior thanked and praised the Father while He was on earth. I challenge my dear readers to turn now and grasp the Lord's words in Matthew 11:25-27.
Jesus thanked His Father for one of the greatest revelations ever given on earth. It was then He turned to the crowds and gave them the greatest promise ever given on earth in Matthew 11:28-30!
The lesson here for all of us is that real thanksgiving to the Father always leads to transformation in the way we see life. The Savior didn't come to earth and die on the cross to make us happy. He came, rather, to make us good ... like Himself. Only as we follow Him in all His ways, being thankful in all things, will He teach us to be "His kind of good," and only those living His kind of good -- He called it righteousness -- will be happy!
Real happiness means you possess contentment and expectations. For instance, hard and agonizing experiences in our life will teach the wise in Christ the meaning of the cross. If we learn the meaning of His cross by carrying our own cross, we grow in our expectations of both the now and the forever. You can call me stupid or insane, but I profoundly believe that in Christ I will live forever. This gift of eternal life (as Jesus promised) always trumps my now life (as I describe it) as I gradually learn and experience the supernatural power of transforming thanksgiving to Him for all things ... both buffeting and blessing. Life will all work out and will be the best it could be to earnest and continuous followers of Jesus.
I confess to my readers that I am a very imperfect man, but I have sought to be more perfect in Christ for 72 of my 90 years. I am still far from perfect, but I rejoice to know I'm more perfect than I used to be! The Lord Jesus lived a perfect life in an evil and imperfect world. He invites us all to strive for the same thing. None of us will attain perfection, but we can be perfect in His sight as we thank Him for giving us our cross to carry.
"Give thanks in all circumstances..." (I Thess. 5:18).
"Thanks be to God, who always leads us..." (II Cor. 2:14).
H.D. McCarty pastored one of Fayetteville's largest churches for 39 years, served as the volunteer chaplain of the Razorbacks for 30 years and is a retired pilot and Air Force chaplain. Email him at [email protected].