The Importance of Giving Thanks

Why does it matter that we give thanks? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I just don’t care for Thanksgiving Day.

I find it odd that when I say that, that means I have to say I don’t care for giving thanks. I don’t really. It’s just the day itself has never been appealing to me. Being on the autism spectrum, I have a strange relationship with food. It’s nothing I am really comfortable around in many cases.

If you ask me what my best Thanksgiving were, I will point to two. The first one was in 2009. A girl I was dating invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family. That girl, as I’m sure you know, is now my wife. I, in turn, invited her to spend Christmas with my family and the day before I proposed to her.

The second was in 1996. This one ranked as awesome to me because The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time had just come out. I also had the flu so I couldn’t be around anyone. I spent that evening not being around food I didn’t care for, but trying to make it through the Forest Temple. Good times. Good times.

Today, I’m still not a food person, and that’s something that often troubles me about Thanksgiving. Hear advertising about Thanksgiving or a remark on the radio about it and all people talk about is the food involved. There’s actually little mention of the idea of, you know, giving thanks.

Giving thanks is extremely important. Just because I don’t care for the rituals around the event doesn’t mean the event itself doesn’t matter. In Romans 1, one of the reasons the wrath of God comes upon humanity is that we didn’t give thanks to God.

When we don’t give thanks for a thing in our lives, we begin to take it for granted. We act like it’s just a sure thing and it will always be there. We have no such promise. None of us is promised another minute. I have no promise today that I will go to sleep tonight. Neither do you.

As I sit here in my office, there are many realities around here. Periodically, my cat will come in here. Sometimes, my wife will come in and if I don’t see her, I see pictures of her all around. I have gifts from friends and several books and pictures on the wall and on the bookshelves. I have gifts from Allie all throughout here too.

None of these have to be.

Now when it comes to taking for granted, some might say that for a Christian, marriage is to be a sure thing. Divorce is not to be an open option for Christians. Yes. I do realize that there are issues of abuse and infidelity, but generally, most of us think we should avoid divorce.

That is true, but that does not mean we take the other for granted. Some of you see that on Facebook I post love messages to my wife six days a week. Why do that? I do it not only to express love to her, but for a reason that could be considered selfish. I do it to hold myself accountable before people. See how I treat Allie and make sure what happens in private matches what’s in the public social media.

Doing this also builds up the love that I have for her. If I give thanks for her every day, I do not take her for granted then as much. I have friends who are single and want to marry. I pray that they will, but I am thankful I am not in that position anymore. That is a gift.

Christianity is something we take for granted. Here we have things like worship wars going on over what style of music should be played, arguments about the color of the carpet, and any number of doctrinal disputes. On the last one, of course, doctrine does matter, but sometimes we think the purpose of Christianity is those disputes. While these are going on, Christians in Iran and China and other places are risking their lives by going to church. Just a suspicion. They’re not leaving a church because the children’s nursery is less than perfect.

We have become so familiar with the Gospel, that we even take God’s love for granted. We take forgiveness for granted. We have heard the message so often we don’t pause to realize what we have been given. If we take those for granted, we will also not take sin seriously. You don’t take Christianity seriously if it’s just a given to you.

That ingratitude towards God will lead to a bitter root in our lives. It will make us more self-centered and less other-centered. That keeps us from fulfilling the two greatest commandments of Jesus. We don’t need to treat God as a given in our lives. His being in our lives came at the price of Christ.

So today, do I still care for the food and festivities? No. Does that mean I don’t care for giving thanks? Not at all. I think financially, our family is poor, but spiritually, we have blessings beyond compare. I am thankful for them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters