“Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Ps. 34:11 NKJV
As a group of writers dedicated to sharing our faith with the next generation, do we effectively communicate thanksgiving and hope in difficult events as well as holidays?
Why give thanks?
The very first mentions of “thanksgiving” in Leviticus 7:12-13 reference food, so our traditional Thanksgiving Day celebration feasts derive from both faith and historical events.
As families and friends gather this year, whether in the usual numbers or smaller groups due to local restrictions, we have all experienced a year of daily announcements related to disease and efforts to avoid it. Many have lost one or more loved ones. Perhaps more than ever, then, we need to focus on reasons to celebrate and express gratitude, first of all, to God.
How we celebrate
Psalms like 69:30, 95:2,100:4, and 147:7 pair thanksgiving with instrumental music, vocal songs, and praise, and Old Testament historical books record specific celebrations of thanksgiving in Israel, especially by the kings David and Solomon. As many later kings fell away from the true worship of God, there are fewer references to thanksgiving in the rest of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles. But Ezra and Nehemiah record the renewed celebrations and thanksgiving to God when the exiles returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.
Thanking God in the hard times
Perhaps most relevant to Thanksgiving celebrations in 2020 are prophetic utterances about thanksgiving connected to times of trial. Isaiah 51:3 and Jeremiah 30:19 offer God’s promises of comfort to restore thanksgiving after a season of judgment, while Amos and Jonah proclaim thanksgiving as a sacrifice to God.
Write2Ignite Team member Gail Cartee offers this wise observance about the ways in which God transforms painful past events and sins to bring about salvation. Her November 15, 2020 review of Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Metaxas, acknowledges selfish motives among early colonial explorers and traders, and outbreaks of disease which decimated whole tribes of Native Americans. Metaxas compares these to Joseph’s brothers, who sold him into slavery. He shows God’s redemptive purpose even in the most tragic human misdeeds.
As Gail observes, “Confusion and mistrust surround us on every hand, but God has not left us alone. He is working all things for our good. Pray for our nation and all our leaders. Pray for wisdom as Christians. Help wherever you can. Do not be afraid, because God is with us through every circumstance working all things for our good.”
I encourage you to subscribe to Gail’s blog, Family Devotions from My Father’s World. It’s a rich trove of wisdom from Scripture and God’s amazing creation, with stories and activities that parents and children can enjoy together. https://gailcartee.blogspot.com/
Closing thought for a season of thanksgiving
Whatever our circumstances have been in this oft-maligned year, let’s take this opportunity to make the closing months of 2020 a blessed time of focus on the goodness and the works of God, in our own hearts and lives, and in our nation.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV