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Disheveled Theologian: Giving thanks

When we were in the final days leading up to the women’s conference this fall, I was reading my Bible one night before bed and two verses jumped out at me. I was feeling a little anxious about the upcoming conference. Not terribly stressed, but tired, and that always seems to lead to anxiety.

And then I read Psalm 13, verses 5 and 6 and I was reminded that didn’t need to worry; I just needed to trust in God’s love. I didn’t need to worry; I just needed to rejoice in the gift of my salvation. I didn’t need to worry; I just needed to acknowledge God’s goodness to me.

Those verses have stuck with me ever since and this week, in preparing for Thanksgiving, I have come back to them again and again.

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5,6 NIV

Giving thanks is about more than just being thankful, I think. It’s about trust. Trusting in God even when we’re afraid. Trusting that he knows better than we do. Trusting that he can see what we cannot: the ending. He knows outcome of each situation we face and he also knows the value of the journey. We can trust that because of his unfailing love, he has what’s best for us in mind.

Thanksgiving is also about our salvation. I mean sure, we can give thanks for non-spiritual things and we should! Absolutely we should. But isn’t the core of us, the thing we should be the most thankful for, the gift of eternal life?

And Thanksgiving is ultimately about giving praise to God in every situation. There is so much we can praise him for! Salvation, yes, but also his dependability, his wisdom, his care, his provision, his people, his love, his guidance. His goodness. The list is unending.

Yes, he has been good to me. I love that the verse uses the first person, “… he has been good to me”. It’s not the more vague, “us”. Sure, he’s been good to us as a whole. To his people. To those he loves … which is everyone! But in this verse it comes down to me. To each one of us as individuals.

God has been good to to me. To you. Do I thank him for that? Do I acknowledge that? Do I sing the Lord’s praise because of that?

Because if I don’t, I should.

Psalm 100 verses 4 and 5 reinforce these ideas. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Yes. His love endures. Forever. To everyone.

On that point alone we should be shouting our thanks this Thanksgiving.

In spite of all our hardships; in spite of all our pain, in spite of all our sadness; he has been good.

And so we rejoice. And so we trust. And so we praise his name.

And so we give thanks.

Amen? Amen.

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is gcodon@gmail.com.