“What are you thankful for?”
This question (or one like it) will be asked around dinner tables all across the country this week. As families gather and blessings are counted, we will rightly pause and consider all we are grateful for.
Giving thanks FOR our blessings, however, is only one side of the gratitude coin. Without the other side of thankfulness, our expressions are flat and incomplete.
If we are going to give thanks FOR anything, we must also give thanks TO someone. Thanksgiving requires both an indirect and a direct object; it necessitates both FOR and TO. A vague, indistinct sense of appreciation – an unfixed feeling of gratitude – is ultimately insufficient.
Indeed, some gratitude is better than no gratitude, but if we merely feel thankful without directing our thanks to another person, our thankfulness fizzles and fades. We become a firework that shoots into the air with the sparkling trail and the screeching sound of anticipation, only to fade into the dark without a colorful finale. Thankfulness without a recipient is a gift left unopened and unreceived.
Giving thanks FOR demands giving thanks TO, and the “to” of thanksgiving must be personal. We must give thanks to a person.
We cannot give thanks to fate, for the fickle nature of fortune is blind and cares not whose life is increased nor which cord is cut short. We cannot give thanks to the universe, for the universe has no will to grant gifts nor a consciousness to receive them.
No, if we are going to give thanks for anything, we must give thanks to someone. And if we are going to give thanks to someone, that someone most assuredly must be God.
God, the author of life, is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He provides comfort to those who grieve and brings peace where chaos and enmity formerly ruled. He causes the rain of blessing to fall on the just and the unjust alike. He draws near to the hurting and cares for the needy. He multiplies families and grants special attention to orphans and widows.
God is light and love, just and merciful. He provides hope and gives strength, brings comfort, and grants rest. For good reason, the Doxology declares, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
All blessings flow from the Blessed One. Whether we ask for them or not, whether we recognize them or not, every good thing we enjoy comes from Him. Our impulse is to thank Him. Not only does the Lord deserve our thanks, but we owe it to Him. All thanks, honor, blessing, praise, and glory belong to Him.
So, let us give thanks FOR what we have been given, but let us also give thanks TO the One who gives it. Then we will see how thanksgiving, humbly offered and properly directed, proves fully satisfying, wonderfully complete, even enlarging our souls.