Fall has both a positive and negative effect on me. I love the changing leaves and the smell of woodsmoke in the air. The clouds that block the sun, however, tend to bring on physical ailments, which I could happily do without. Fall tends to bring on higher stress levels as the holidays kick into gear, and suddenly there is so much to do and way too little time. In the midst of this season, I am reminded of one holiday we often almost overlook. Thanksgiving. And I wonder how much better I would feel if I would practice voicing my thanks, every day, to the One who has blessed me so much!
King David understood gratitude. When he set up the Levites and priests and singers to fulfill their roles in the coming temple, he wrote this psalm of thanks to be sung to the Lord. Notice all of the active words he uses. (Read the whole psalm in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36)
8 Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 11 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 12 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 13 O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones...
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. 24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 25 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. 28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, 29 ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. 30 Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. 31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” 32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! 33 Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 35 Cry out, “Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise.” 36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”
I think David got it right when he involved the active participation of the people in worship. (The verses I left out are his description of what God had done for Israel in the past.) Much like we are to do at our annual Thanksgiving celebration - we remember what God has done for us already, and trust Him to continue to care for us in the future.
But it is also a time to give and to call on God's name for help and rescue. In light of so many national tragedies this season, there is so much need. It is a time to praise and to remember the Lord, but also a time to help our fellow human beings.
Jesus put it best when He quoted the Shema and said,
‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.”
Helping our neighbor in this time of crisis, is gratitude in action.
If God so prompts you to give, consider donating or volunteering to help Samaritan's Purse, or some other worthy organization.