By Bernie Augsburger
Thanksgiving encompasses the whole of the Christian life. The Bible urges us to give thanks in all things (Eph. 5:20) and for all things (1 Thess. 5:18). Whether expressed in the ecstasy of jubilation or the agony of desperation, our text states, “It is a good to give thanks to the Lord.”
The Scriptures include at least 140 references to thanksgiving. The word most frequently used in the New Testament for giving thanks, eucharistein, implies intimacy with the person to whom the thanks is given. The root word for thanksgiving is charis, which is the word for grace. We acknowledge this idea when we refer to giving thanks before a meal as “saying grace.” The apostle Paul wrote that when we give thanks to God through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we do so with grace in our hearts (Eph. 5:18, 19).
The following acrostic uses the word thanks to suggest some key areas for which we should be thankful.
T—God’s testing of us (Heb. 12:5–11). Testing reminds us of God’s love for us as His children. The result of testing produces “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” in us.
H—God’s help to us (Heb. 13:6). “So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 4:16 states that we can “find help in the time of need.”
A—God’s availability for us (1 Pet. 5:7). Many times people who are going through difficulties have claimed God’s availability by quoting, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” This verse may be a quote from Psalm 55:22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”
N—God’s nearness to us (Heb. 13:5). “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” On many occasions in life, we need to claim God’s nearness as expressed in Psalm 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
K—God’s kindness to us (Titus 3:4, 5). The preceding verse states, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” In spite of such a defiled characterization, God steps into our lives in His kindness as described in verses 4 and 5: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”
S—God’s salvation of us (2 Thess. 2:13). “But we are bound to give thanks to God . . . because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”
Whether spontaneously uttered, purposefully remembered, or extensively prepared, our gratefulness to God for Who He is and what He has done for us should be expressed regularly. Psalm 92:2 indicates such regularity by exhorting us to thank God each morning for His loving-kindness and every evening for His faithfulness.
Bernie Augsburger is state representative of the Illinois-Missouri Association of Regular Baptist Churches. This article was first posted to his Trumpet Notes newsletter and is reposted here by permission.