This week, millions of Americans will gather together with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many, it is a time to catch up with those we haven’t seen all year as we gorge ourselves on turkey and honey ham, and then enter into a coma while the Detroit Lions take their annual shellacking. Far more than it being a holiday, however, thanksgiving is an attitude that ought to characterize the disciples of Jesus year round. We are to give thanks to our God who has loaded us down with gracious benefits. What are some of those benefits? In Psalm 103:1-5, David writes, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
To begin with, we ought to give thanks to God because He forgives all our sins. I have been completely and freely forgiven of my sin because Christ died in my place. The backlog of sins that condemned me to death has been erased, and I now stand clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. I have been accepted and welcomed as a son. There will be a lot of estranged children that will not make it to the dinner table on Thanksgiving this year, but those who trust in Christ are always welcomed as sons at the Father’s table.
Second, we ought to give thanks to God because He heals all our diseases. He is the Great Physician who heals the sin sickness of our souls. Sin is the reason that there is sickness and death in the world. The cross and empty tomb of Jesus, however, is the believer’s victory. As our loved ones grow old and eventually pass away into eternity, we are reminded that death for the Christian is merely a shadow that we pass through. The sickness of the body and the coldness of grave has no hold on the child of God.
Third, we ought to give thanks to God because He has redeemed our life from the pit. If you are like me, you find it easy to complain when things don’t go your way or when you become disappointed. Pride often leads us to believe we deserve something. The only thing that a sinful person deserves is destruction. If I received my just desserts, I’d be under the judgment of God. Yet Christ has redeemed my life from the pit! He has given me hope and a bright future.
Fourth, we ought to give thanks to God because He crowns us with steadfast love and mercy. When I should have been condemned, I have instead been given a crown. That God’s love is steadfast means that it endures and never wanes. God will never love me more than He does right now, and He will never love me less. His love endures forever!
Last of all, we ought to give thanks to God because He satisfies us with good and renews our spirit day by day. True and lasting satisfaction belongs to the one who loves God. Only God can satisfy the longings of the human heart. Jesus said that the one who drinks from the well of living water will find that they are never thirsty again. In fact, the water that He gives will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. That is why Christ’s disciples can lose their possessions and be persecuted in the world and yet still remain most joyful and triumphant.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for my wife and children. But most of all, I am thankful for the Lord’s benefits. How about you?