Gatherings of family and friends over feasts have passed. Such an environment makes it easy to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. I pondered over whether genuine thankfulness could continue without positive stimulus to the senses? If so, what motivates thankfulness when there are no external or obvious reasons? A personal resolution was reached after self reflection that thankfulness can outlast an established day of festivity when expressed from authentic joy towards God. Being joyful for God’s character of his love displays his other attributes of goodness freely towards us. Such an encounter quickens or makes alive a spirit of thanksgiving within us.
Tangibles such as food, shelter and love of family and friends conjure reflections of God for what he has done. Continual joy for God is sustained in who he is. Life’s difficulties especially today can challenge one’s faith and attitude of gratitude. Often our thankfulness is influenced by the vicissitudes of life instead of the Life Giver.
Thanksgiving must be predicated on the fullness of God’s character, the Triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit which bring forth both, external and internal blessings. Therefore, continual thanksgiving is obtained from reflecting on the totality of God revealed through the Fruit of the Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit exposes the Fruit of the Spirit required to authenticate our thanksgiving towards God. The Fruit of the Spirit is the template established for us by God through his son, Jesus Christ. This template is God’s attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) These attributes are the treasures hidden within cracked, flawed vessels called humanity producing divine functionality. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Even though we have attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit, demonstration of how to praise and thank God is necessary. Like Moses in Exodus 15:11, we vacillate instead of transcending to thanking him for who is. Moses asked “Are there any gods like you, Lord?” There are no gods like you. You are wonderfully holy, amazingly powerful, a worker of miracles.” Despite proclaiming God’s goodness, Moses asked God to reveal His glorious presence. Since Moses possessed the Fruit of the Spirit (attributes of God) his request was approved by God. God not only revealed the fullness of his goodness but he also demonstrated how he is to be praised and thanked. (Exodus 33:17 and Exodus 34:5-6) The Fruit of the Spirit creates oneness of God and Moses. This oneness created “a mind of God” in Moses revealing the thoughts God had towards him.
One’s thoughts can determine one’s behavior, actions and ultimately who they are or will become. As stated in Proverbs 23:7 “For as a person thinks in his heart, so he or she is.” As Jesus plainly states in Matthew 12:34 “The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart.” These revelations support how thoughts will determine what, when and how we display thankfulness.
One must develop a hallelujah anyhow attitude like Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s declaration of thanksgiving towards God was in the midst of devastation and at the expense of his well-being. As he states in Habakkuk 3:17-18 “Fig trees may not grow figs, and there may be no grapes on the vines. There may be no olives growing and no food growing in the fields. There may be no sheep in the pens and no cattle in the barns. But I will still be glad in the Lord. I will rejoice in God my Savior regardless of the trial or turmoil; devastation or disappointment; chaos or conflict. In other words, there may be no food in the refrigerator, no money in the bank, nor job, shelter and assistance. Proclaiming like David in Psalm 19:14 “That the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable (pleasing) in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer” allows God to establish our thoughts creating a continual attitude to “Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good and his faithful love endures forever.