Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart,
In the company of the upright and in the assembly
(Ps 111:1).

Now, here's a holiday that I can really get behind, it may even be my favorite. For starters, it is more biblical than Christmas (but, of course, so is Hanukkah [cf. John 10:22]), with a biblical word as its title, "Thanksgiving," and it is full of turkey and football... not to mention doughnut-holes on a cold morning with my favorite aspiring theologian. All the trappings for a great day!

Though it originated from a presidential decreed on October 3, 1863, even that rings with truth:
They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

-Abraham Lincoln, "Thanksgiving Proclamation"
Unfortunately, even those of us Americans who actually know our Most High God through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, may neglect the deliberate opportunity today to give thanks for His "gracious gifts" and "singular deliverances and blessings."

Psalm 111 is therefore a helpful corrective, reminding us of the wisdom and goodness of our God in our giving of thanks. Not only does thanksgiving increase our delight in the creative acts of God (vv. 2-3), our awe in the redemptive grace of God (vv. 4-9), but it reinforces our zeal to fight sin and obey our Lord (v. 10). Along these same lines, Ligon Duncan has written:
A sense of entitlement is the death of gratitude. In our comfortable and affluent world in the Christian West, we must be constantly on guard for this bane of ingratitude to God. The prime prayer-weapon that God has given to us to fight against it is thanksgiving. Without thanksgiving in our prayers we will lack assurance because when we fail to rehearse God's answers and blessings we become forgetful of them and hence are opened up to discouragement.
So, fight discouragement and disobedience today by giving sincere and earnest thanks! Recount the undeserved mercies we have received from God in our Lord Jesus Christ, particularly in view of "our national perverseness and disobedience." May each heart be full of thanks and give praise "in the company of the upright and in the assembly." Happy Thanksgiving.

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