Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is the holiday most cherished as a time to gather with family. Christians wonder how modern Jews can faithfully celebrate the Passover without recognizing the divine source of their deliverance from Egyptian captivity so long ago, but many Americans likewise commemorate Thanksgiving without confessing God as the proper recipient of their thanks.
Each of us should reflect on the blessings poured into our lives. Family, friends, health, memories, love, and life itself are all reasons to be grateful. Gratitude is meaningless unless it is directed at a person. A good exercise for families and individuals alike is to count our many blessings — one by one if necessary. As we do so, we indeed recollect what God has done.
But have you ever considered the importance of anticipatory gratitude?
Gratitude in hindsight is the rightful response to favors given. The grace of God demonstrated in the Person of Jesus Christ is offered to everyone who trusts in His finished work on the cross of Calvary. Unworthy as we are, we receive His unmerited favor by simply believing on the Messiah for our salvation.
Over the years, I’ve made many lists — mental and written — of the blessings God has poured into my life. Each of them is incomplete, because it is simply impossible to produce an exhaustive list of what God has done for each of us. Yet I don’t know that I’ve ever taken time to consciously thank Him for the many blessings I am looking forward to. I proclaim them with great anticipation and urge others to become excited about what lies ahead for those who long for Jesus’ appearing. I want to receive the crown of righteousness Paul spoke of in 2 Timothy 4:8.
So, this Thanksgiving I will intentionally thank God for the blessings I am still awaiting. Because His promises are “Yes and Amen” — and more certain than my own existence — they are as good as fulfilled already. That is why God often spoke through the prophets in the past tense even as He revealed the future. All that God has spoken will come true.
Whether you gather with family or friends this Thanksgiving, I hope that you’ll take time to express your gratitude for what God has done, what He is doing, and what He will soon bring to pass — in your life and for all who hear His Voice.