Give. Freakin’. Thanks.
Target is selling Turkey hats. Fully stuffed, looks like there’s a turkey on your head, brown and furry hats. They cost $2.50. I visit target often, and every time I pass the Turkey hats I want to buy one. Not because I need one, nor do I have any intention of wearing one. Anywhere. Ever. I want to buy one because they only cost two dollars and fifty cents. A true bargain considering the intricacy of the design.
For weeks now, as I have thrown laundry detergent and dog chewies into the festive red cart, I have also tossed in a turkey hat only to return it to the bin seconds before checking out. The trailer park in all of us tells me to make the purchase, while all things sane and dignified refuse to stoop that low. To appease my conflicting morals, I took my son with me on Saturday. Pausing at the bargain bins, I requested that he model a turkey hat while a took a picture. And posted it to Facebook.
Forty likes and fifteen comments later, I satisfied my need for a turkey hat.
As Christians we have an amazing capacity to take the most beautiful and profound tenets of our faith and turn them into a wall plaque, or coffee coaster, or Facebook post.
Thanksgiving is no different.
This year, a memo went out to all the churches to challenge their members to post “what I’m thankful for today” on Facebook every day for the month of November. My wall has been plastered for weeks with people proclaiming thanks for perfect days, perfect weather, perfect husbands, perfect children. I didn’t think much of it, until another friend posted this:
“This is why I am not a Christian, I am tired of reading about how perfect your lives are. I am thankful for the good and the bad and think I am better off for acknowledging the imperfections in life.”
I think the heart behind the challenge was good, but it cheapens the depth of gratitude that we as believers ought to have. It’s like a stuffed Turkey hat; seeming like a good idea but not practical. It is bargain bin Christianity.
If you study Thanksgiving in scripture, it’s a fascinating endeavor. Thanksgiving was not ever meant to be directed towards an object, but towards God. It was the beginning requirement of every sacrifice, the end result of every encounter with Jehovah, the essence of every prayer. The word for Thanksgiving in the Hebrew is the same word for confession. Thanks were an act of communication with God, the beginning of relationship with Him.
When the king commanded that Daniel bow down to him and forbid him to worship God, Daniel looked out the window and gave Thanks. The word used for his Thanksgiving in that moment was never used at any other time in the Old Testament. It was a moment of gratitude captured in such a way that no other existing word defined it. That’s how deep our thanks should reach.
When God began to restore Israel, rebuilding the broken places, He spoke through the prophet Nehemiah commanding for one man to oversee the ministry of Thanksgiving. Again it is the only time in the Old Testament we see this kind of Thanksgiving; embracing a gratitude so strong that it rises from despair.
In Revelation, as the elders bow down, they give thanks: for Him who was, and is, and is to come.
We give thanks in ALL things, because the object of our good pleasure is not the perfection we experience here on Earth but the One who is Eternal.
Tomorrow, do not allow your Thanks to be satisfied with a moment captured in a Facebook Post. Let it only be satisfied by He who desires to capture your heart.