Impossible to be Thankful?

November 23, 2017

Does the word “thanksgiving” carry much meaning for you anymore?

I am not going into the rich, layered history of the American holiday. Plenty of sources are out there for that. I will observe it’s not what it was originally, becoming mostly about gorging ourselves on groceries and gridiron diversions.

The practice of thanksgiving is universal. No holiday is needed, although I appreciate the deliberate setting aside of time to remind ourselves of the Source of all that’s good. It’s one of my favorites. We need the reminders, especially in our narcissistic culture.


Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

To whom do you give thanks? Is it to the Almighty? If not, who? Or what? Seems there should be an object of our gratitude.

I have been cogitating on words I heard a few days ago.

Demandingness is circumstantially and not relationally driven. People who are demanding cannot be thankful.

(I cannot remember the book Pastor Tim Davis quoted when he gave us this last Sunday.)

No good argument against the truth of that quote has made itself clear, or even bubbled up, in my mind. If you believe you deserve things, why would you be thankful? You don’t have all you should have, as you see it.

why should I give thanks
I do not have what I want
I demand my rights

Demandingness can be internal. I may never realize, in superficial conversation, that demandingness is the mindset of your life. Sooner or later though, it will manifest. Internal, without you saying a public word, or excruciatingly external, your heart will shrivel.

Humility has been a theme in my writing several times. Another example is here. This idea of gratitude is related. A person who is demanding is proud – self-centered. Others owe me, so they should be giving it up. Now.

  • Pride prevents learning much. If you are proud, you think you already know.
  • Pride prevents repentance. I refer to humility as a “God-Magnet”, with no irreverence to Almighty Creator meant. Accounts are given of men who turned from pride to humility, and God changed His actions toward them.
  • Pride prevents deep gratitude. If I am a self-made one, who “Did It My Way” (I despise that arrogant song), why thank? Thank who?

So, demandingness prevents gratitude. One is definitely not like the other; further, they are mutually exclusive.

In the 60’s, on the way home from Peru, I declared, after seeing how sweet, sincere, fervent, godly people were living there in dire poverty, that “I’d never be unthankful again”.

I have not lived up perfectly to that declaration, but it remains a major life lantern for me to this moment.

Worldview has weighty bearing on whether or not we have daily gratitude. Having daily gratitude makes a chasm of difference in how you experience what comes your way.

Thanksgiving is healthy. Imbibe every day. Don’t pass today’s dedicated holiday off in self-absorbed surfeiting, thinking “I deserve a break today“. There’s more to it.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In our culture we are encouraged to think we deserve much. This pushes us toward discontent and demandingness.

Choose gratitude. See what happens. I’m not describing fuzzy, feely, nebulous, non-directed gratitude. (Is that even gratitude at all?)

There is One who deserves it all, including the thankful humility of your heart.

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