That time of the year is approaching, when we are called to reflect on our lives and recognize that we are still standing – not because of our own ingenuity, intellect, or pedigree, or even because we are entitled to stand – but because God has been good to us. Even if you feel that life has left you weary and torn, the very fact that you are still alive is testimony to God’s grace and mercy.
Psalms 107 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, the ancient Israelites were instructed that it is appropriate to give a “thank offering” for occasions such as “successful passage through the desert, release from prison, recovery from a serious illness, or surviving a storm at sea.”
Few of us have suffered the desert or a storm at sea, but we’ve all thirsted through dry places, felt restricted and trapped, endured sicknesses of our own or those of loved ones, or somehow escaped the ravages of life. We’ve either been there or we’re still there.
Compton’s Interactive Bible says, “No problem is too great for God.” Psalm 107 reveals the terrible calamities experienced by the ancient Israelites: homelessness and starvation (verses 4-5), imprisonment (10-12), self-inflicted disease (17-18), and imminent shipwreck (23-27). (Since Israel was landlocked, Jews were especially fearful of turbulent seas.) In each of these cases, God was able to rescue those who called for help. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:37: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
When life seems to be getting the best of us, it's not always easy to stop and give thanks. But that’s just what God calls us to do. The “thank offering” was a response to coming through the tough times or because God delivered. We are called to give God thanks – not only when we are delivered – but also when all is well or when we’re weathering the storm.
Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Maybe this wasn’t your best year yet, but praise God anyway. Thanksgiving comes when we acknowledge our joy in belonging to God. Praise him that he chooses to be called our God and calls us his own.
Another interesting fact about the “thank offering”: The offering bread was made to be eaten within one day, with the understanding that thanksgiving is a daily act. We should not hold our praises, nor let the rocks cry out their thanksgiving. We are to thank God each day.
I believe we need to shout our thanksgiving so the world may know where our help comes from and so God may know we are a grateful people.