Autumn is the fulfillment of the seasons. It brings warm sweaters, falling leaves, and completed harvest. After the fruits of summer fade, autumn bursts with ample greens and bountiful gourds. This natural nourishment sustains our bodies as we are utterly dependent on the land. Yet we are so far removed from our food source that we fail to appreciate the miracle of a plentiful harvest. So many things have to go right in order to reap the full benefits the land produces. Temperature, rain, and soil conditions are fickle things that we little understand or pause to think about.
Our thankfulness reflects this ease. With little effort, we gather our food to serve at our Thanksgiving tables. Our gain comes easy, our thankfulness is shallow. We reduce thankfulness to superficial satisfaction that warms our hearts. Family and friends come together in warm houses to over-indulge in our shared bounty. We feast, fellowship, and enjoy idle entertainment.
We say that we are thankful, but whom do we thank? We count our blessings: family and friends, possessions, jobs, health, and our very lives. But what happens when problems arise, troubles come, or tragedies strike? When loss overshadows prosperity will warm-hearted thankfulness sustain us? Doubtful. Whom do we thank for the gain and blame for the loss? People? Jobs? Stuff? Ourselves? An arbitrary expression of thanks does not produce a life of gratitude. Perhaps this is why our National Day of Thanks is immediately followed by our National Tribute to Materialism. We feel thankful, but we are never satisfied.
True thankfulness arises from soul-deep gratitude. This thankfulness must have an object. That object must be more than our people, ourselves, our achievements or our stuff. The Universe is too dark, vast and unfathomable to care deeply about providing for our every need. But beyond the Universe, outside of space and time, exists One who has made us, redeemed us, and called us by name. This One promises to never leave us or forsake us, so that if the budget is tight, the relationship is rocky, or the health is failing, we can still thank Him. How?
We thank Him, not because He makes life easy, but because he promises to be with us no matter what, even when life gets impossibly hard. And that promise is as true as He himself is: the reliable, steadfast object of our thanks, deserving not only of gratitude but also of our deepest worship and adoration. This thankfulness to an all-powerful, knowable, loving God reaches into the deepest corners of our hearts. We thank Him, because by Him we are fully known, and because in Him we are loved anyway.
“Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, His love endures forever.”