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The Holy Art of Thanksgiving

This issue of Beacon Lights comes out in the month of November, which is the month remembered especially because it is the season of thanksgiving. Harvest time is just past and we as a nation have the custom of setting a day of the month of November aside to give thanks to Almighty God. Although this issue is prepared and received in the United States before the day itself arrives, there undoubtedly are some of our young men who will receive it many days after Thanksgiving Day. Nevertheless as Christians we are always interested in the subject of thanksgiving; the subject is never “old news”. We remember our calling to give thanks to God always for all things. This remembrance is the occasion for my writing something about the holy art of thanksgiving.

The expression is often made that we have many things for which we ought to be thankful. If we mean that the same things of the totality of received things from the hand of the Almighty make our “ought”, our duty, easier. We have excluded some things then, which always lightens our burden.

If we even mean by the expression many things, good things in our eyes, we change it from a duty to a pleasure. Such is our experience as children of God. It is very easy for us to single out some things for which we can say it is a pleasure for us to give thanks to God for them. All children of God have some things about which they can say, for these I give thanks. We above all can and do thank God for His salvation in Jesus Christ. We thank Him that we may know Him in His Word, which is our guide to that salvation, the source of our pleasure. We can easily thank God for some of the means He uses to lead us to His revelation, to Himself. Some of these are: the preaching of the Word, our Protestant Reformed preaching; fellowship with the saints; our religious papers, The Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights; these and many other things which we are now enjoying or have enjoyed. For these we ought to give thanks, with pleasure we do give thanks for them. We give thanks to God too for each day that He gives us, in which there was plenty of everything to give us pleasure. We do not consider such thanksgiving an art. And in our present time we know that for some, all of the above mentioned pleasures are no more. Probably the days are filled with misery. One child of God was once in such misery that he cursed the day in which he was born. And, who has not misery? For that reason we must reflect more upon the art of giving thanks. An art is something which must he learned. To fulfill our calling to give thanks always we must learn the art of it. Paul writes, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

How are we to learn that lesson? It isn’t one of the “arts”. It is a holy art. The Holy Spirit must teach us and lead us to give thanks, true thanksgiving, always. He shall teach us to say about all our experience: it is in God’s providence, it is well, for He shall turn it to our profit.

We feel the need of prayer. Pray without ceasing. Even prayer is the chief part of true thankfulness.