Happy Thanksgiving, Trinity Grace!
If you’re like me, you want to experience more joy. More joy usually means more happiness. Holidays like Thanksgiving especially force the issue. We’re culturally expected to be happy. Isn’t that why we hail, “Happy Thanksgiving!”?
So how do I grow in joy? Scripture gives us clear examples of how to grow in joy. Simply put, grow in joy by growing in thankfulness! How appropriate, then, that Thanksgiving is upon us.
Let’s learn from David’s example in Scripture about growing in thankfulness. In 1 Chronicles 16, David settles an all important symbol in Israel’s faith: the ark of the covenant. The ark contained and represented God’s sure promises, his covenant, to his people. Here’s the account:
1 And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. 2 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord 3 and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. 4 Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel. 5 Asaph was the chief, and second to him were Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, who were to play harps and lyres; Asaph was to sound the cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. 1 Chronicles 16:1-6
We learn principles of thankfulness from what happens next.
7 Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers.
Respond to goodness.
Wow. Did you notice that thanksgiving overflowed in song. This is sincere. This is an uncontainable show of praise and an heartfelt expression of joy. How was this possible? Because David was responding to God’s goodness as represented by God’s ark of the covenant, by God’s sure promises and presence. This is a universal principle. Thankfulness begins by responding to goodness, whether it be the goodness of another human being or the goodness of God.
8 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
Seek personal relationship with God.
David sought God in personal relationship. Notice that David calls upon God’s name. This is personal. This is relational. When someone permits me to call them by their first name–“Please, call me _________”–I know he is inviting me closer. It’s no different with God. He invites us to call upon his name personally. The basics of meditating on God’s Word and prayer never grow out of style. They are the staples of warm, heartfelt, and practically beneficial Christian faith.
make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Intentionally notice and count every blessing–small to great.
David took pains to recognize every good gift from God. When our hearts count God’s blessings, small to great, God becomes bigger in our eyes. When God becomes bigger in our eyes, then our hearts become bigger and more filled with joy.
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
In your heart of hearts, depend on God for strength.
I love how David says, “Seek his presence continually!” Your thankfulness will grow as you ask God for help and then experience his help. This is quite the distinguisher between Christ followers and the rest of the world. It’s powerful when you intentionally start the day with the prayer and attitude, “Lord, help me with ________ today,” then end the day with your head on the pillow, take a deep breath, exhale, and have the attitude, “Thanks, God, for getting me through another day. Thank you for your grace.” You will grow in thankfulness, and, therefore, joy.
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
13 O offspring of Israel his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
Finally, guard your identity.
Notice that David equates God’s wondrous work with the Lord’s act of claiming Israel as his chosen, precious ones. For the Christ follower, this translates to us guarding our identity in Christ. Never forget whose you are and, therefore, who you are. You are a precious child of God most high, purchased and redeemed by the precious blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.
This Thanksgiving (and every day thereafter for that matter!), practice the bolded exhortations above. However you celebrate this Thanksgiving weekend, with whichever varied traditions, I hope what ties us together as Christ’s church is a response to God’s goodness. I trust your thankfulness will increase and, therefore, your joy because of God’s love for you in Christ.
Again, Happy Thanksgiving! We have everything to be thankful for because God has fulfilled his covenant to his Church through Jesus Christ.