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Give Thanks

November 27, 2019·Tiffany Wortley

I love Christmas.

My sister loves Thanksgiving.

For most of the year, this is not a problem… until, of course, the holidays roll around.

Then it gets ugly.

While I used to reign in my Christmas cheer until the beginning of December, I find I have become more and more impatient with each passing year. I just can’t wait!

Last year, I bought my niece a headband with jingle bells on it and tried to convince her to wear it to Thanksgiving dinner. Needless to say, this was not well received.

My sister’s argument is that it’s good for us to stop and give thanks.

My argument is that we should be giving thanks all the time. With bells on.

However, as I’m preparing to visit my family for Thanksgiving, I must admit, I’m actually challenged by my own argument. Because, while it’s good in theory, the question is… do I? Do I actually give thanks to the Lord, continually?

A couple days ago, we read Psalm 136 in our Pause Reading Plan, and the first several verses in the chapter begin with the words “Give Thanks.”

It pierced my heart.

GIVE THANKS to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
GIVE THANKS to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 
GIVE THANKS to the Lord of lords. His love endures forever. 
To Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
(Psalm 136:1-4)

As the psalm continues, the “give thanks” seems to become implied, but this echoing line never falters. The psalmist begins to recount the great wonders the Lord has done, and after every line, the response remains the same…

His love endures forever.

It is a steady, unwavering declaration. A response to the psalmist’s call to give thanks.

According to scholars, this Psalm is likely a Levitical song that would have actually been used as a call and response. The leader would call the worshippers again and again to give thanks, and they would steadfastly answer…

His love endures forever. 
His love endures forever. 
His love endures forever.

And this gives me pause.

Because, when I contextualize this, I find this is not the answer I would expect. This is not the response I would give. The response of a child when an adult reminds them to “say thank you,” is always… well… “thank you.”

But this refrain is not just a perfunctory response of “thanks” because it is demanded to be given. This is so much more heartfelt. So much more encompassing. This is a response that recognizes WHAT we are giving thanks for, and WHO, in fact, we are giving thanks to.

It is a response that understands…

Because of His great love, He created the heavens and the earth (verses 5-9).
Because of His great love, He rescued His people from Egypt (verses 10-15).
Because of His great love, He brought His people into the promised land (verses 16-22).
Because of His great love, He remembers us, frees us, and provides for us (verses 23-25).

These are more than just acts of kindness, more than just gifts to thank Him for. This is a testimony of His love for us. His unending, ever-enduring, unshakable love for us.

His love that will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

His love, which neither death nor life will ever be able to separate us from (Romans 8:38).

And as I reflect, I find I’m not satisfied to give only a whisper of thanks before a holiday meal. I find instead my heart fighting to find the words to convey my depthless gratitude, my lips aching to sing His praises, and my mind echoing this phrase again and again…

His love endures forever.

When faced with such a reminder, I can’t help but stop and give thanks.

And I wonder what it would be like if the echoes of our praises truly filled our homes… not just at Thanksgiving, but year-round.

Pastor Tiffany Wortley

The Church on the Way