One of the disappointing things about this year’s Thanksgiving was the failure of our president to even mention the word “God” during his Thanksgiving message to the nation. Instead he mentioned “luck.” He said that he and his family would be reflecting on how truly “lucky” they were. But Thanksgiving is meaningless unless you have someone to whom you are thankful. If some of our great biblical heroes were giving a thanksgiving message to us, I doubt they’d talk about how lucky they had been but about God’s goodness to them. Let’s look at three of them.
- Joseph would say: “I thank God that my brothers and I were reconciled at last” (Genesis 50:1-3; 15-21). Time and tenderness have a way of reconciling those who have conflicts. When we don’t allow a root of bitterness to spring up, when we keep a forgiving spirit, God can heal even the most difficult of relationships with time.
- Naomi would say: “I thank God that He gave me joy and a job in my old age” (Ruth 1:1-5 & 16-21; 4:13-17). At midlife, Naomi thought her life was bitter, empty, and afflicted with misfortune (1:20-21), but in her old age she was given the opportunity of grandmothering the boy who would produce the Messianic line of Jewish kings.
- Stephen would say: “I thank God that He used my martyrdom as part of the process of transforming a great foe of the Gospel into a great force for world evangelism (Acts 6:1 – 8:3). Saul of Tarsus could never escape the Christlike influence of Christianity’ s first martyr. It contributed to his conversion. See Acts 22:6-21 and 1Timothy 1:12-17.
Our fullest expressions of thanksgiving come late in life (or even in eternity) when we have a broader perspective on life. That’s why the older we become the more thankful we should be. As time goes by, the full outworking of God’s providence becomes more evident. We can say with greater assurance: It’s not luck, but grace.