November 23, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Let them thank the LORD
for his faithful love
and his wondrous works for all people.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This national holiday is a day for residents of the U.S. to express our gratitude to God for his many blessings. At least that’s the main idea. (For a brief history of Thanksgiving, see this item from my website.)
But, for many of us, Thanksgiving Day is filled with activities besides pausing to give thanks to God. Some of us spend the better part of the day cooking the turkey and all the trimmings. Others spend our holiday hours eating what has been cooked by others. Millions of Americans fill Thanksgiving Day with television watching, beginning with the Macy’s Parade in New York City and then plenty of football. When you add travel and gathering with relatives, Thanksgiving Day can become crowded with everything but actual thanksgiving. Sometimes all God gets from us is a short prayer before we dig into the turkey.
I’m not really complaining about our Thanksgiving Day traditions. I love gathering with family and friends for a turkey dinner with pumpkin pie. But I also think it’s good for us to take time for intentional, extended thanksgiving to God. God deserves it. Our souls need it.
When I was pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I encouraged folks to set aside time in the days before or after Thanksgiving for an extended time of offering gratitude to God. I’d encourage my Life for Leaders readers to do the same. If you don’t have time for this today, then perhaps you can set aside an hour tomorrow for intentional, extended thanksgiving to God.
Let Psalm 107 encourage you. This psalm urges us to be grateful right from verse 1: “Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever!” (CEB). The rest of the psalm elaborates upon God’s goodness with specific examples. For example, verses 4-7 depict the Lord as rescuing those who were lost, bringing them to a place of safety. Verse 8 sums up: “Let them thank the LORD for his faithful love and his wondrous works for all people.” This verse serves as a refrain throughout Psalm 107, as it is repeated three more times (107:15, 21, 31).
When we stop to consider God’s love for us and how that love has been expressed in the wonderful things he has done for us, we will naturally offer thanks and praise to God. So, may I encourage you to make time for remembering and thanking. Think of God’s love for you and his goodness in your life… and give thanks!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions that help you offer thanks to God?
When, in the next couple of days, could you set aside an hour for intentional thanksgiving?
How have you experienced God’s love recently?
Gracious God, I am thankful that my country sets aside a whole day for thanksgiving. But I am aware of how easy it is to fill this day with so many other things besides giving thanks to you. Forgive me, Lord, when my Thanksgiving has very little thanks in it.
By your grace, may my heart be filled with gratitude as I take time to offer thanks for all of your gifts, most of all your love revealed and poured out through Jesus Christ. You have been so good to me, Lord! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: God undergirds all work and productivity (Psalm 107)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.