- Aileen McKernan
This Thanksgiving I set my sights on tackling the topic of giving thanks in the Bible. I envisioned creating an epic survey of what giving thanks is, why it’s important, how to give thanks, and what it releases in our lives. I desired to inspire the masses to reconnect with the Spirit of the Holiday. But like the feast I’m about to eat, I rapidly realized I bit off more than I could chew. A cursory search yielded hundreds of scriptures on the matter! Overwhelmed is an understatement of how I felt - I didn't know where to begin!
As I scanned through a few scriptures on one of the lists, I was drawn to just one in particular. And as I dug deeper and studied it out, chewed on it, dare I say savored its meat, I realized this one was enough. It was enough for me and I hope you dear reader too receive the blessing of its simple satisfaction this Thanksgiving.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever!
Psalm 107 kicks off with a jubilant, commanding clarion call to Thanksgiving.
Give thanks! Throw your hands up, declare, make a bold proclamation unto the Lord, Jehovah the always existing, eternal God because He is... Good. Not good like a good movie or a good friend but Good in such a comprehensive manner that its hard to even capture its essence in words. Goodness like a loaded baked potato good. God at His very core is pleasing, perfect, beautiful, righteous, sweet, fragrant, rich, Good.
How do we know? How can we believe that His goodness is not a sugary fix but a satisfying meal? Because His goodness is expressed in His mercy! The Hebrew word for mercy is checed and isn't just the Sunday school version of mercy, God's unmerited favor, like what is that? No it's just as loaded as the baked potato good. Mercy invokes like an overflowing fountain of God's Love, Zeal, Ardour, Desire. Mercy is God's passionate reaching love. What is His love reaching for? For you! His beloved. This mercy, this Love, is the constant and never ending and never failing, that existed before time and will exist beyond time, anchor for our souls. It is His Eternal, Reliable Love for you demonstrated in Christ Jesus.
You see we often put the apple before the cart and try to drum up Thanks because we know we are supposed to be thankful. Trying to give thanks can be hard especially when things aren’t going according to your plans, your promises, or your purpose. When your child is battling chronic illness, when you’re constantly suffering set back in your finances instead of building traction to wealth, when the spouse you’re praying for is stubborn in their opposition to you, when the promise of God is delayed in your life. We can easily begrudgingly throw our hands up in a half hallelujah because we know its what we’re supposed to do.
Or we can look beyond the temporary situations and circumstances, fix our gaze on the maker, and be reminded of who He is. His Love is zealous! Burning. Passionate fire, for you! For God so Loved you! He sent His only Son. He desires for you to know on a real, personal level that He is the God who doesn't just promise but manifests His Goodness, His Love, His Mercy, His beauty, His excellency, His favor for you on earth as it is in heaven. There is no shadow of turning in the hands of this Radical Love and Mercy. It endures, His Love for you endures, the test of time and is accessible here and now, today, in the midst of what you're going through and to the place of where He is bringing you.
When I remind myself of who He is, when the apple is on the cart instead of in front of it, the Thanksgiving flows freely and I find myself sitting, overcome, of good cheer like Jesus commanded enigmatically in some of His last words before the crucifixion. Be of good cheer – In this world you will have many trials, but be of Good cheer! Give thanks, because I (He) has overcome the world. Its not just that He has Risen, but His Rising is a revelation that His Love endures forever.
To me, someone who has placed eggs in baskets that break easily, I am reassured by the constancy of His Love for it is not fickle. It is the One thing I can always rely on forever. I am beyond measure, wildly loved and approved of by my maker regardless of any other thing in my life.
And maybe that’s the lesson of finding and diving into just this one scripture on this Thanksgiving. It is enough. As we celebrate the material abundance and prosperity that God has given us by feasting today, let us see it as a representation of the abundant and enduring blessing of the gift of His Love that He freely gave. Let us see it as representative of the heart behind the hand and take a moment in the overflow of the revelation to acknowledge what a marvelous God He is. For surely He has provided us with the feast of His Living Word today and always.