Before we move into the four reasons why celebrating the Eucharist enables us to be thankful, let me say that I’m fully aware of how difficult it is to be thankful at times. So, just for a moment, let’s talk turkey about how hard it is to be grateful, even when our culture has set aside an entire day to give thanks. Here’s why it’s so hard to be grateful . . .
We have at least two forces that work against gratitude; one is external and one internal.
Externally our circumstances don’t always add up to thanksgiving. Living in a fallen world can be excruciatingly difficult. Paul knew this, so he specifically reminded the Ephesians that they should be “giving thanks always and for everything” (Ephesians 5:20), and he urged the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Some of you look back at the last 12 months and wonder what there is to be thankful for. Perhaps it’s because of what’s been taken away from you: a job, a friend, a parent, a husband or wife or other significant relationship, a pet, your good health, a mentor or Christian leader, a home. Or maybe it’s because of what’s been added to you: weight, unexpected bills, a medical condition, new concerns about your children, depression or a loved one who is depressed, burdens at work, burdens at home. The circumstances produced by a fallen world will hinder our thanksgiving.
Internally our sinful nature, what Paul calls “the flesh” and what I call our “me-first heart” resists giving thanks. Living with a fallen heart can be excruciatingly difficult. In fact, in Romans 1 Paul says that this is one of the marks of being a sinner:
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
It is more natural for sinners to gripe than to be grateful. So, on top of the fact that the circumstances produced by a fallen world will hinder our thanksgiving, we add the fact the sin produced by our fallen hearts will hinder our thanksgiving.
I can tell you that the past weeks and months of my own life have verified this to be true: the troubles in my sin-soaked world and the troubles in my own sin-sick heart are warring against the gratitude for grace that God’s Spirit wants to produce in me.
The Psalms describe and prescribe the cure for the thankless heart. At least 4 times we find this command in the Psalms, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” I desperately need to be reminded that the Lord is good, and that His love will never fail me or His people forever. Friends, if you need to be reminded that the Lord is good and that His steadfast love endures forever, then come to the Lord’s table of Thanksgiving where the pro0f of God’s goodness and love are served. Fill up on Jesus as He is offered in the gospel and pictured in the bread and wine. Then push back from the table and give thanks to God the Father for satisfying your soul with a taste of His goodness and love.
More later. . .
[This post is adapted from the sermon “Taken, Blessed, Broken, Shared”]