Thanksgiving Day is a welcome respite from the typical unthankful, hurried, disconnected lives most people get caught in. Even the most critical, thankless person will often find pause, even if for just a few moments at the table, to express thanks.
While thankfulness in any form is healthy, there is a significant difference between being thankful for the spread of food and being thankful for the one who provided it.
Our thankfulness can actually be quite selfish.
It goes something along the lines of: “I like to eat. I like to eat good food. I am thankful I am eating good food.” The locus of the thankfulness is easy to see: I, Me, Self. So, my thankfulness has actually become self-centered. The reason that I’m thankful, the basis of my gratitude, is the fact that I’m getting something I want.
The better alternative shifts the focus. It puts less emphasis on what I’m getting and re-focuses on the provider. We might call this “selfless thankfulness.” Yes, I may be getting something I want (a great meal), but I am primarily grateful that there is someone in my life who loves and cares for me enough to provide me with something good.
The application in our relationship with God is profound.
If I am only grateful when I’m getting the things that I want (ie. finances, relationships, etc.) then my thankfulness will ebb and flow depending on whether I believe my needs are being met. If, however, I start with the truth that there is a great and good God who never changes, my thankfulness will not only be steadfast, it will be properly directed where it should be.
What is the focus of your thankfulness? The gift or the Giver?