Today is Black Friday, that day of unbelievable deals, massive crowds, and record revenues. Of course, I use the term "day" loosely as it seems that Black Friday has expanded to include Black Thursday afternoon. Not only that, I've been receiving emails all week from retailers proclaiming the early start to Black Friday shopping, which in my mind begs the question: can it still be Black Friday if it's really Monday? Hmmm....
Poor Thanksgiving. It's become the forgotten holiday, squeezed as it is between Halloween and the biggest shopping day (day-and-a-half) of the year. I suppose Thanksgiving suffers from a lack of commercial and retail appeal: no candy, costumes, or gifts to drive consumer spending and thus all the corresponding so-called celebratory hype. Pumpkins and mums, turkey and dressing, they can only carry the market so far.
However much the holiday may be overlooked, thanksgiving itself--the giving of thanks--is rather en vogue at the moment, what with gratitude journals and the enumeration of thousands of gifts. Friends are posting things for which they are thankful on their Facebook walls, one for each day of the month of November, and some of us are tweeting our spontaneous thanksgiving marked with the hashtag "novemberthanksgiving". Beyond the month of November and throughout the year, many bloggers devote space on Thursdays to give thanks for the week's blessings and providences.
This is a good thing. Few things evoke my own thanksgiving like others' joyful testimony of the Lord's goodness. In other words, gratitude prompts gratitude. When I see you acknowledge the blessings of warm socks and a cup of coffee, I realize the Lord's grace to me in similar, ordinary gifts.
And not merely in the small and ordinary. Indeed how can I read of Naomi's humble gratitude for the Lord's severe mercy and not be moved to offer my own sacrifice of praise?
As we read in Naomi's beautiful testimony, thanksgiving is not mere acknowledgement of something that we like or makes us happy. Of course, it is good and right and beneficial for us to gratefully acknowledge that which gives us joy; yet if we only make the list or post the status or tweet the appropriate hashtag we haven't engaged in the kind of thanksgiving the Bible exhorts.
"Give thanks to the Lord," the psalmist asserts, "for he is good; for his love endures forever!" (Ps. 118:1) More than identifying a passing pleasure, we give thanks to the Lord. Yes, my morning cup of coffee is a joy for which I am grateful but the joy isn't merely in the coffee itself! Rather my joy is in my God, the Giver of all good things. My giving thanks for His grace to me--in a beautiful fall morning, in the laughter of my sons, in the pumpkin bread in my oven, in His sustaining strength in trial and difficulty--my giving thanks for these blessings and more declares His goodness and proclaims that He is the joy beyond all joys, the true Treasure, the One from whom all blessings flow.
Whatever you are thankful for this season--and I pray your list is long--may your thanksgiving turn your heart to the only One worthy, our kind and gracious Father who loves us with an everlasting love. He has blessed you richly not merely for the blessings themselves, but so that you may know the greater blessing of seeing Him in them. Let us set our hearts to consider His love in the everyday glimpses of grace, yes and amen. Let us also look beyond the lesser joys to the surpassing joy of the cross and His sacrifice and our salvation. He has given us all things in His Son, the indescribable gift! He is good and His love endures forever!