Gratitude Expressed in Grief

Our national holiday of Thanksgiving is almost exclusively regarded as a day of rejoicing. It is on this day that we remind ourselves of the material gifts which we have received. We often boast of the fact that the United States is the most prosperous nation on the globe. We seem to have the idea that well-filled barns and good wages necessarily constitute a blessing and we are happy. We celebrate and call our celebration Thanksgiving Day.

The Word of God teaches us that there may be good reason for weeping when we find our hands filled with material gifts. In Psalm 92:6, 7 we read: “A brutish man knoweth not; neither does a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish: it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.” It will not harm anyone to think of this sobering truth. To receive material abundance does not necessarily mean that we are blessed. In such abundance the wrath of God may be manifested.

We may well face the question whether God is pleased with this day of thanksgiving. The Lord had some harsh things to say to his people Israel about their public worship. We read in Isaiah 1:12, 14: “When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample my courts?…the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting….your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary of bearing them.”



We look round about us and find a people that does not keep the law of God. We are called by our government to bring thanks unto God, regardless who this God may be, while the commandment is very clear: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” One of our national sins is the misuSe of the Name of God. The day of the Lord is desecrated, and those in high places are not the least among the offenders. The commandment to honor our father and mother is trampled under foot. Parents do not understand their position of authority in the home, and fail to rule their children. Children refuse to render obedience to their parents. Our press informs us of the most horrible crimes committed without any regard for the law which plainly says that we shall not kill. We find an adulterous generation which seems to glory in the filth of immorality. We find a nation which kneels at the shrine of the goddess of chance, and which seeks not much more than bread and games.

It is this nation which is setting a day apart to say thanks. And we as children of God may well weep. David declares: “Streams of water run down mine eyes, because they observe not thy law.” His was a sorrow which was rooted in his love for God—love which he expresses in many of his psalms. He loved the Lord because of all that the Lord had done for him. Read what he has to say in Psalm 116: “I love Jehovah, because he heareth my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” It was this deep love for God which brought grief into his heart when he saw men and women scorn this God by their disobedience to his commandments.

I am sure that this pleased God more than all the expressions of happiness because of material prosperity. Of course. we as Christians shall heed the call of our government and set aside a day of thanks for the purpose of remembering the gifts which God in his goodness, grace. and mercy has bestowed upon us. But we shall also remember that happiness is not necessarily thankfulness. We have a good example of this in the ten lepers who were healed by our Savior. I am sure that all ten were happy to be rid of their terrible disease. But of the ten there was but one who was thankful.

When we see our hands filled with the good gifts of God, we shall think of Him who has not dealt with us according to our sins; who, because of his unchangeable love, has had mercy on us. We shall dedicate ourselves and our possessions to his service and we shall implore him to add grace to grace that we may be good stewards of his gifts. It will be our earnest desire to be able to use these material gifts in such a way that we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven; that we may so walk that when others see us they will glorify our Father who is in heaven. We as his people shall acknowledge before him the sins of the nation, and we shall not hesitate to denounce that which does not honor him. Such ought to be our thanksgiving: an expression of gratitude in the midst of grief.

We should have as high a regard for the Name of God as was manifested by Moses. When God threatened to destroy Israel in the desert and promised Moses to make him the father of a great nation, Moses prayed the Lord not to do this because of what the Egyptians might say about Him. He pointed out that they might come to the conclusion that God was not able to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. It was this high regard for the Name of God which caused streams of waters to run down his eyes. It is this regard for God which should cause us to grieve when we behold a nation observing a formal day of thanksgiving, while its heart is not with the Lord of heaven and earth.

This also should make us very careful that our observance of this day is the manifestation of a truly thankful heart for all God’s undeserved blessings we have received.