Thanksgiving That God Is In Control Of The Future
Five Things to Thank God for on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving has become a secular holiday. It is a time for family get-togethers, sports events and shopping trips. There is some, but not enough giving of thanks on Thanksgiving. Moreover, when gratitude is felt, it frequently remains just a feeling that is not directed toward a good and personal God.
Then too, when people thank God, it is usually for the material blessings of money, successes and achievements in life. We do well to thank God for these things. However, there are spiritual things for which few thank Him. He showers us with blessings that are unrecognized, forgotten and neglected. They deserve our gratitude.
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The terrible moral crisis in the Church and society only makes this special gratitude more necessary. Living the life of a Catholic is extremely difficult in our days. These spiritual gifts sustain us as we fight the terrible Culture War that rages in our nation. They fill us with hope for a future return to order.
Thus, there are five such things I will be thanking God for on Thanksgiving.
I will be thanking God for His loving Providence. This year, He made me neither rich nor poor. He provided for me so that I might have no major wants and thus remain engaged in the fight for His cause. In the midst of all my struggles, I can say I sensed the presence of an ordering action found in the Creator and which is called Providence.
This Divine Providence did not only take care of my material wants. Above all, God provided for my spiritual needs as God supported me in all my efforts to oppose the evils of the day. Thus, it is that theologians define Divine Providence as “the plan conceived in the mind of God according to which he directs all creatures to their proper end.”
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I will thank God for always being there amid the trials of life to provide for me and direct me to my proper end which is to be ever closer to Him and work for His greater glory.
I sensed the presence of an ordering action found in the Creator and which is called Providence – “the plan conceived in the mind of God according to which he directs all creatures to their proper end.”
I will be thanking God for putting sublime things in my path. He protected me from the gaudy or extravagant spectacles that could have entertained me and catered to my worst passions. There were neither cruise ships nor casinos in my path with their frenetically intemperate distractions that lead individuals and societies into vice and decadence.Instead, God put in my path those sublime things of transcendent excellence that cause souls to be overawed by their magnificence. Sublime things provoke what Edmund Burke rightly calls “the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.”
Throughout history, this is represented by extraordinary panoramas, works of art, music, liturgy, ideas, or heroic feats that have been called sublime. These things captivate souls and speed them in their quest towards plenitude.
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Thus, God gives me those very accessible and sublimely beautiful things that reflect Him. He provided me with spectacular sunsets and marvelous scene of nature. I was awed by beautiful music and uplifting manifestations of the arts. He allowed me to pray in magnificent churches and attend heavenly liturgies.
These things sustain me in the fight against a corrupting society. They provide me with images of what a truly Christian society might be. They strengthen me in the fight for Him.
I will thank God this Thanksgiving for providing me with these moments of awe. They did not happen all the time, but at those moments in the fight when I needed them.
I will thank God for giving me all those special people that fill the ranks of those who fight for Him. I will thank him for my own calling to be part of this great struggle.
I will thank God for giving me special people who help me overcome my insufficiency in the face of the today’s crisis. They allowed me to see that I am not alone in the battles for the future of our nation.
God also provides society with leaders and models. He provides and calls forth what sociologists call “representative characters” who perceive the ideals, principles, and qualities that are desired and admired by society and translate them into concrete programs of life and culture. I will thank God for those above me that give me direction, counsel and support.
There are so many blessings found in the Catholic family that bind us together in charity and support. There are also those less able and fortunate that God puts in our path so that we might practice charity, patience and leadership.All this is so contrary to the individualism of our days. Remnants of this social framework provide the elements for a more efficient and virtuous fight against a culture that seeks to destroy all Christian bonds. I will thank God for giving me all those special people that fill the ranks of those who fight for Him. I will thank him for my own calling to be part of this great struggle.
I will thank God for all the crosses that He has sent me. The greatest cross is living in a world that does not acknowledge Him as King and worthy of all praise and adoration. I know these sufferings are given to me for my good so that they may serve to unite me more to God and Holy Mother Church.
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By dying to self, I can show my love for Him who died for me.
By accepting the Way of the Cross, I can embrace the path to imitate Christ, who took His mission to its final consequences and was obedient unto death.
I can be comforted by the fact that the Cross is the way to reform society. It is the sublime perfume of the Cross’ self-denial that gives value, meaning, and beauty to all things human.
I will thank God for this great mother. She is the means by which all can be accomplished, and victory obtained, as promised at Fatima.
Thus, on this Thanksgiving, I will thank God for the honor and privilege of carrying these crosses in union with Him.
Finally, I will thank God for the Mother He gave us. Without this great gift, everything would be impossible. The Blessed Mother is the source of our strength and confidence.
We are favored by the maternal affection of a mother who intensely desires our good and the good of society incomparably more than we do. Amidst setbacks and defeat, she rallies to our assistance. We need only to be among those who have “fled to her protection, implored her help and sought her intercession.” She leaves no one “unaided.”
On this Thanksgiving, I will thank God for this great mother. She is the means by which all can be accomplished, and victory obtained, as promised at Fatima.
Thus, while life in these corrupting and violent times is difficult to navigate, there is much to be thankful for. We are truly blessed to be sustained by God in the fight for our nation’s future. May we make this Thanksgiving different and thank God for the spiritual things that few thank Him for.
Thanksgiving: Echoing the Grace of God
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Giving thanks is no small thing for the Christian.
But far too many of us have the wrong impression. Deep down we may see the summons to thanksgiving as pretty peripheral. Giving thanks—whoop dee doo—What really excites me is fill-in-the-blank.
It is tragic when gratitude seems obscure to the very people who have the most to be thankful for. To sinners forever saved by grace, thanksgiving should be significant. Even central. Healthy Christians are thankful Christians.
Central to Honoring God
In fact, Romans 1:21 shows us that thanksgiving is what we were created for, and it is “at the heart of what it means to be a Christian,” says Tremper Longman.
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. (Romans 1:21)
There it is. Side by side with honoring God is giving him thanks. Don’t underestimate the centrality of thanksgiving. Gratitude is essential in doing whatever we do to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This no small thing.So Longman gives us this jarring angle: “The real difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the former gives thanks to God” (How to Read the Psalms, 144).
In A Praying Life, Paul Miller adds some similar reflections about the centrality of thanksgiving for the Christian.
While it was thanklessness that was “the first sin to emerge from our ancient rebellion against God’ (Romans 1:21), in our ongoing redemption, it is thanksgiving that “replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one” (89–90). (For a strong couple pages on “Cultivating a Thankful Spirit,” see Miller’s Praying Life, 89-91.)
Thanksgiving is important—essential—because the Christian life, from the beginning to end, is a life of extraordinary grace.
Created to Echo Grace
Thanksgiving “exults in grace,” writes John Piper. Gratitude was “created by God to echo grace.” We were created by God to echo his grace, and we’ve been redeemed by Jesus to echo his astounding grace all the more. Piper continues,
I exalt gratitude as a central biblical response of the heart to the grace of God. The Bible commands gratitude to God as one of our highest duties. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). (Future Grace, 32)
There it is again. Note the close connection between thanksgiving and the massive biblical reality of honoring and glorifying God. Thanksgiving is big time.
Echoing Grace Without Nullifying It
But a danger lurks. The Bible doesn’t have much, if anything, to say about obeying gratitude. Giving thanks to God for what he has given to us is precious and essential—and so is trusting him for his ongoing provision in the future. Thanksgiving is beautiful, but it can go bad on us, if we try to give it Faith’s job.
There is an impulse in the fallen human—all our hearts—to forget that gratitude is a spontaneous response of joy to receiving something…. When we forget this, what happens is that gratitude starts to be misused and distorted as an impulse to pay for the very thing that came to us “gratis” [free]. This terrible moment is the birthplace of the “debtor’s ethic.”
The debtor’s ethic says, “Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you.” This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce.
God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another. He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors.
If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic—and the effect is to nullify grace. (32)
Thanks for the Past, Trust for the Future
Thanksgiving must learn to delegate, and not attempt to do all the work itself. Thanksgiving has an indispensible ally named Faith, and they need to stay in good communication.
Gratitude exults in the past benefits of God and says to faith, “Embrace more of these benefits for the future, so that my happy work of looking back on God’s deliverance may continue.” (38)
And Faith is eager to respond, “Thank you, Thanksgiving, for sending me your impulses of delight in what God has done. I’ll happily transpose those into faith and keep on trusting him. I’ll keep believing in Jesus for more grace.”
More Grace to Come
May God be pleased to fill us to overflowing with thanksgiving for his amazing graces—the greatest of which is the gift of himself in the person of his Son.
And may thanksgiving give rise to great hope that the God who has so richly provided for us to date, will most certainly give us everything we need for our everlasting good—and increase for all eternity in showing us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
The grace we’ve seen so far is only a taste of the grace that is to come. Have your thanksgiving ready. There will be much more echoing to enjoy.