Thanksgiving is just a few days away for us here in the United States. I‘d like to tell you how thankful I am for all of you that follow the blog and podcast. And thank you for the warm reception my work has received. I have been truly blessed by this experience!
Thanksgiving has always been a time to reflect on what we are thankful for. Many families have traditions that allow each family member to share what they are thankful for. I have even noticing several of my friends on Facebook celebrating “Thankful Thursdays”. These are all great ideas, and we should definitely be thankful for the people in our lives and all we have been given. But I have a different question. Instead of asking “What are you thankful for?”, I’d like to ask, “Who are you thankful to”?
Have you ever thought about that? When we tell someone “Thank you”, we are directing our gratitude to a person. We don’t thank inanimate objects. When I’m tired, I’m thankful I have a chair to sit in, but I’m not thankful to the chair. I don’t thank the chair for being a comfortable place to rest. When I’m eating Thanksgiving dinner, I’m thankful for mashed potatoes, but I’m not thankful to the mashed potatoes.
Gratitude can only be directed at persons. I think this creates a problem for non-believers. They want to express their gratitude but have not outlet to heap that expression on. I have seen several posts on Facebook that express thoughts like “thanking the universe” or “sending positive thoughts”. I find these statements nonsensical. What does it mean to thank the universe? You’re grateful to all the molecules making up the universe? Why are you grateful to things, when things can take no action on their own to either help or harm you? Only intelligent agents can make choices to grant or withhold blessings.
In a way this makes sense. We are all hardwired to feel gratitude. But if we reject God as the person to be grateful to, then we must find something else to direct our gratitude at. And so, people begin to reach for any possible solution that doesn’t require a deity. Frank Turek often uses what is quickly becoming one of my favorite phrases. He says that non-believers have to “Sit in God’s lap to slap His face”. In other words, they want to acknowledge the concept of gratitude, but withhold that same gratitude from the One who deserves it.
Gratitude is also a recognition that who or what you have in your life is not there by chance. Sometimes we call this luck or karma. It’s an admission that different outcomes could have arisen from the same situation. We realize that we are often the beneficiaries of blessings we have no direct influence over. This again should point us back to a source for the blessings we are receiving.
So, this Thanksgiving I hope as you sit with your family and share what you are thankful for, you will also take some time to remember who you are thankful to! God bless you all, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!