Word of the Month

Enduring Thankfulness

October 2009

By celebrating Thanksgiving Day we thank God for preserving us both naturally and spiritually. Since relatively few people today depend on agriculture to earn their livelihood, the reason for giving thanks on this day has shifted somewhat. Nowadays we do not so much give thanks for a good harvest, but rather for all the gifts which the Lord has provided for us in His kindness. We give particular thanks for the creation, and praise and glorify God as the Creator. We know that the work of our hands is not something we can take for granted, and that we can basically do nothing on our own to ensure our wellbeing. Everything depends on God’s grace.

In one particular passage, the psalmist states: “I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation” (Psalm 118: 21). Here it is the psalmist’s relationship to God that prompts thankfulness for help in natural matters. Whenever we experience the helpful intervention of God, and whenever He leads us out of bitter and difficult circumstances, we indeed have reason to give thanks. But it is on a more spiritual level that Apostle Paul writes: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15: 57). This gratitude refers to Christ and our eternal salvation.

However, our thankfulness is also to be of an enduring nature. This is my concern in our present time! We are all thankful when­ever we experience the Lord’s help, but how quickly do we forget about it and turn our attention to everyday matters! When children are thankful for a gift, it is an overwhelming feeling for them, but already an hour later things can look completely different! At times their gratefulness has already evaporated by then. But we are called upon to show enduring thankfulness!

Enduring thankfulness is something that is pleasing to God, and this is to distinguish us as His children. Let me illustrate this as follows: there are many topics that enter into the public consciousness. The media no doubt contributes to this. Take terms such as “carbon dioxide emissions” or “global warming”, for example. Hardly anyone ever even gave thought to these issues a few years back, and yet today they are on everyone’s lips. These subjects harbour the implicit concern: “What will the future bring?” In this context, people often talk about the fact that projects intended to counter global warming and the depletion of natural resources must be sustainable, and not merely a flash in the pan.

Now that our awareness has been directed toward thankfulness, we are called upon to sustain it. Let us not merely be thankful for the moment and then go back to our daily agenda, but let us also be thankful in hindsight, like the one leper healed by the Lord Jesus who was the only one of the ten lepers to turn back in order to thank the Lord. Let us not only express thankfulness on Thanksgiving Day or for the moment, but rather let us be enduringly thankful and sustain this thankfulness over the future. After all, our future is with the Lord!      

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)