It occurred to me today that ‘thanksgiving’ can be active or, in polite society, something that is almost passive. May be someone in your household has borrowed a book or something impersonal and, in passing, they put it back on the table by you, saying casually, “By the way there’s that book I borrowed a while back”. Because it really isn’t something, the return of which you have been eagerly awaiting, you barely look up, but acknowledge with a polite, “Oh thanks, I wondered where that was”.
Now compare that to someone in a desert offered some life saving water. The response there is going to be very different. Their thank you will probably be stifled by the grabbing of the water bottle from your hand, and the taking of their first gulps. I guess the depth of our gratitude will be in proportion to our hunger for the thing being given or offered, and our hunger will also probably determine how ‘active’ our thanks is. That is to say, how eagerly we grab hold of the gift and open it as we give our thanks.
I think of Bartimaeus, Mark 10:46-52, or the lame man at the gate Beautiful, who went about ‘walking and jumping, and praising God,’ after He was healed, Acts, 3:1-8. And what about Mary and Martha after Lazarus was raised from the dead, John 11:1-43? We are not told about the party they may have had that evening, as all their neighbours and friends gathered to witness the miracle. Suffice it to say, when there has been a measure of desperation, I think that the gratitude expressed will be great.
So what about us? I just feel that there are so many things that I take for granted. Like the fact that Jesus is always there when I want to talk to Him; that there is always forgiveness whenever I have need of it, and there is always help from our ‘Helper’ the Holy Spirit, any time of the day or night. Because as we have commented over the last two days there is a bigness in God’s heart to give and give to us, again and again, if I am ready and eager to receive what He offers.
I want my ‘thanksgiving’ to be active, not just polite. I want it to be accompanied by a taking hold of whatever it is He is offering in each moment. Let us not leave His gifts and grace to us on the table, like that book that we really didn’t particularly need back at that moment. Let us make our thanksgiving the active kind, the kind that our grandson expresses as he rips open the parcel containing the Lego present he has asked for, longed for and waited impatiently for, and which he knows is inside.
God wants us ‘walking and jumping and praising’ Him, not because He thinks that we need the physical exercise, but because He will know, by our thanksgiving, that we have truly recognised His hand on our lives. As we appreciate the magnitude of the difference He has made, and is making, in our lives, this will be reflected in the way we express our gratitude.
Nobody told the lame man to jump and leap and praise God, he did so because the difference that that healing made was life changing. It is therefore good sometimes, to ask the Holy Spirit to keep us mindful of the difference that all the grace we receive daily is making. To even consider where we might be, had it not been for His love and mercy in our lives. Then, our recognition of the difference that He has made, will be reflected in our thanksgiving.
A couple of days ago we wrote about the joy that we can have in giving ‘thanks’ back to our giving God. We don’t want that thanksgiving to be routine, nominal or just a passive ‘Oh thanks’. So today let us intentionally give ‘heartfelt’ thanks to Him whenever we can, as we grasp just how much He is pouring into our lives moment by moment.