Thanksgiving, Of Course!

Let’s face it: Life is really quite taken up with “things.” Christ and his Cross, his blood and reconciliation, salvation, heaven—these are indeed wonderful, but sobriety and candor demand that we must think much on how to get and how to keep the many “things” which make life possible and pleasant. Things: how heavy their burden in terms of desire and craving! Those who know this arc thankful in this season for work and food and houses and automobiles and warm clothing…even though they might not dare to say it too loudly for fear that they be regarded as “un-spiritual.”

Romans 8:32 has to do with “things.” God is mentioned, and his Son, but only to tell us how to account for the fact that we may confidently expect “all things.” With an enthusiasm the most utopian Communist could never match the apostle declares that the measure of the Christian’s wealth is as wide as the world, as high as the heavens. How exceedingly thankful especially we Christians in America should be for the abundance of good things God has given us. He has filled our granaries with produce and given us a high standard of living which is unparalleled. Yes, the worldly man too has all these material things but not in God’s favor, not in his soil.

These things have been given, urges Paul. Not as a premium for our sloth, not as a reward to those who let things go as they will. Thanksgiving Day commemorates the harvest which was sown and cultivated and reaped by hard-working, wise, and provident farmers. For most of the readers of this paper Thanksgiving Day had its true beginning last March when we gathered in our churches for worship, on the “Annual Day of Prayer for Crops and Industry.” We prayed then for God’s blessing upon our work…and we left church reminded that consecrated work is often the most truly pious of all prayers!

However, Thanksgiving Day is not a pay day—in which we tell God and each other that we have worked hard for everything we have so that it is rightfully ours—but another prayer day—in which we profess the faith which Romans 8:32 urges, the faith which knows that we cannot make one blade of grass to grow, nor one grain of wheat to ripen. “All things” (shoes, furniture, candy, television receivers, space ships, medicines, etc.) are from God, and only because he gives them.


That is why Paul here uses a Greek word for giving which contains the idea of an unmerited favor. Things do not come from capital or from labor. We owe the joy of Thanksgiving Day, 1962, neither to the National Association of Manufacturers nor to the Congress of Industrial Organization. We owe it to God alone, who is pleased to give his grace to men.

That is why we must celebrate this national holiday in church. It is there that men confess that they are not creators but creatures, not deserving workers but undeserving sinners. There we re-affirm the truth that we do what we do because God calls us to do it, and we enjoy its reward as token of his free and plenteous grace! We are not “lucky slaves” but free children of the Father who did not spare even his own Son that we might be sure that with him we would be given all things.

But wasn’t it good that we worried ourselves through this past season, praying for rain and sunshine, so that the basic stuff out of which we refine and manufacture might be ours to enjoy? Paul’s answer here is almost an angry No!

“Things” do not come to us out of concern for things, but out of a concern for God and his will and his honor, a concern born out of a love which sees and trusts rum as our heavenly Father. The words: “will he not give us all things” could stand alone without the slightest embarrassment. Father has all things and knows all things, and that is why he provided us with so many things.

Our worry and anxiety was sinful…and a genuine Thanksgiving observance will not fail to include this primary acknowledgment. O God, forgive us for even suggesting that “things” for us lie within the scope of mere possibility rather than within the scope of thy fatherly care!

But why (our fears and anxieties die hard) is it a “matter of course” that God gives all things? Anyone else but God would never bother to explain with infinite patience and long-suffering the reason why he must bless his own.

The answer is emphatic: God will give us all things because he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all!

God did not spare…God gave him up…This is language which the logic of our theologies cannot contain. How could we ever comprehend what God means for the Son, and what the Son means for the Father? All we can do is think of the blood which had to flow because he who was Abraham’s Cod could not spare his own Isaac, but had to kill him as the Sacrifice to end all sacrifices. The Father did not hold his own Son back from the manger, from Gethsemane and Golgotha, from the stripes and thorns and nails and scorn, but gave him up to death and hell and judgment for us all. He gave the dearest and the best he had. God gave his heart, his child, his life…

This is to say that Thanksgiving Day with its realistic appreciation of things has to do with the Cross! It is at the foot of the Cross that Paul places life’s every-day, ordinary things (as we often think of them). To say this in another way: Paul places the Cross in the very center of our life, right on the farm or in the factory, in the market-place or in Our busy households—right there where we worry and struggle “to make a living,” to get and keep those “things” which we need. All such things are Cross-anchored and Cross-consecrated, for the God who has given us the Christ, who is the best and the finest, the very heart of God, how could he withhold from us everything else, for all else is as dependent upon him as every organ of the body is related to the heart.

With him! All things are comprehended in Christ. If you have Christ, of course you have all things! Not because having received the greater you can also expect the lesser. But because Cod has given us in Christ the key to every spiritual and material treasure. All things are inseparably related to Christ. If you have him you automatically have all things. Paul would say, Even God could not break the relationship he has established between “all things” and his Son; and for the sake of the death of his Son those who believe very really possess God’s own blank check, and it never returns marked “Not Sufficient Funds.”

Christ is the Key which unlocks the treasure house of our Father’s riches! Outside of Christ we have nothing, because outside of him we are unwilling to have God give us anything. Then things become occasion for headache and heartache, no matter how much we have (or should we say: no matter how much has us?) or how little. To get the least we must have the greatest—and if we have him we know that we can say with Paul, “will he not also give us all things with him?”