This time of year, people traditionally list things/people/circumstances for which they give thanks. And that’s good. Perhaps our country would better better off if we dispensed with our entitlement mentality and realized that everything we enjoy (down to the very air we breathe) is a gift to us, not a fundamental right that we can claim. I believe I’m a more mature person as a result of shifting my focus from what I don’t have (and would like) to the abundance of blessings that flood in, around and through my life. Being thankful has, in short, counteracted my dissatisfaction with life. I feel less entitled to things.
But aimless thankfulness still misses the mark, it seems to me. Thankfulness requires a benefactor. Someone is responsible for providing these blessings.
Well, yes. But can we define our terms? Is God an undefined spiritual energy which conforms to whatever spiritual expression suits a given person? From my observation of American culture, particularly in the last 50 years, that certainly appears to be the prevailing attitude, even among professing Christians. This all-inclusive entity makes no personal demands, and can be conveniently fashioned into whatever image fits our ideals and lifestyles, so that he/she/it exists for our benefit. It’s all very comfortable to thank such a well-mannered God. He/she/it is wonderfully tame, and doesn’t much interfere in our lives (bothering us with such nuisances as values and–gasp–commands) unless we invite his/her/its intervention.
Of course, the true God is a definite Person Who reveals Himself in the Bible. He lived in Israel for 33 years in the early First Century, and died for our sins, only to be raised three days later as evidence that the Father accepted His sacrifice. Having accepted the punishment for sins that we committed, He rightfully claims authority over us. Those who willingly yield to His authority easily recognize how abundantly He bestows His blessings, knowing how little we deserve anything good. How thankful I am!
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ~~Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)