From Stephen Witmer from the “Desiring God” Blog
My comments today are almost exclusively from Mr. Witmer. Some of you readers may know that I have been trying to recover from a broken pelvis and in recent days I have found myself unappreciative of God’s gifts to me. I have had a spirit of sadness over me. I don’t have full life at all. I am confined to a chair or bed with very limited ability to participate in life, yet I have come so far in the past 37 days. I want more, but this Thanksgiving I need to take a long pause and consider how far I have come. I have a chance at a full recovery and so many people don’t have that chance due to the results of their traumatic injury. I want to thank God for what I have.
“Many of us live so focused on what we don’t have that we miss the present gifts we could be enjoying. We’re blessed and discontented, with lowered joy and heightened dissatisfaction.
Singles pine for marriage; couples for freedom. The unemployed long for jobs; workers for weekends. Childless couples yearn for a baby; parents for sleep. We want what we don’t have — until we have it. And then we want something more or something else. Men lust after images of women who are not their wives. Women envy other moms with well-adjusted children, immaculate houses, and successful careers. We live in a world of no thanks, almost physically unable to enjoy what we have.
Of course, we’re not always moping for what we don’t have. We’re not afraid to enjoy the good things of this world. Billions of people daily experience trillions of moments of pleasure, joy, and satisfaction. But this creates another massive problem: Most of those moments are enjoyed without any response of thankfulness to God.
Even when we don’t miss the gift, we often miss the Giver. This thanklessness deeply troubled the apostle Paul, who diagnosed it as an act of rebellion against God: “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).
Paul connected the sin of thanklessness with idolatry. Instead of thanking God for what he gives, we assign ultimate value to things God made, worshiping and thanking them instead of God. It’s what Israel did at Mount Sinai: claiming the golden calf had brought them out of Egypt, they gave honor and thanks to a pile of gold.
God created food — and, by extension, every other good thing — in order to be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:3–5). God designed a great circle of thanksgiving: we get the gift, and he gets the gratitude. When we receive gifts without returning thanks, it’s a massive exercise in missing the point.
Millions of Americans will sit down this week before a splendid dinner God created, but will not thank him for it. Instead, many of us will overeat, showing our devotion to some food goddess, and then collapse into a soft chair to worship the great football gods. The guy who gets the winning touchdown will almost certainly receive more praise (and definitely more headlines) than the God who made the whole day possible. The delicious turkey will be praised more than the one who created every living thing.
As Christians, we can commend the goodness of God by cultivating thankful hearts this week, and year round. Let’s examine our lives for patterns of thanklessness. Are there God-given gifts (health, friendships, accomplishments, material blessings) that we haven’t been thanking God for? Let’s be different this Thanksgiving, and celebrate God’s goodness by returning thanks.”
Thank you God…from David Carter…