God is the smartest person I know.
He has everything figured out. He knows the ins-and-outs ahead of time. The most important matter is that He knows humanity thoroughly. He knows how we are. He knows that we are very capable of forgetting that He is the source and supply of all the providential good that we have. So, that is why He encourages us to celebrate, the basis of which is thankfulness.
Thankfulness without deliberate and regular celebration fades into the distortions and dissatisfactions of memory only. But, it is celebration that keeps important things to remember and be thankful viable and meaningful.
For example, we celebrate wedding anniversaries. Not long ago, Terry and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Once again, we celebrated and were thankful that God brought us together. The thematic celebration and thankfulness of that date and day contribute to keeping our personal relationship with something to look forward to even on a daily basis.
Furthermore, the day of our 27th anniversary in 2002 brought another reason to celebrate and be thankful to God. It was on that very day that our third son, Eran, died. I guarantee you that we did not celebrate that day. We were suddenly cut off from a loved one and filled with grief about the harshness of the experience and reality of it.
But, we have since learned to celebrate it and be thankful to God. We not only celebrate and are thankful for having had another year to enjoy one another, but we also have reason to celebrate and be thankful that it is a day that marks Eran’s first day in Heaven. We believe he is still alive, that he is with the Lord, that he is living in a far better place, and that we will see him again in the near future. You cannot beat it with a stick! Celebrating the providence of God makes a thankful difference
Another example has to do with the deliberate celebrations and thankfulness of the people of the Church. Christmas is annually celebrated, because the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ means that our redemption started miraculously. If we did not celebrate the spiritual impact of Jesus’ birth, we would tend over time to take the miracle of it all for granted.
We deliberately celebrate the Death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, which keeps the Gospel of Christ and the salvation of God meaningful to us. We deliberately celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from His death on the Cross. We celebrate and are thankful to God for doing the humanly impossible, and that it makes an eternal difference for us. We weekly celebrate (by going to church and worshipping) the Intercession of Christ at God’s right hand. We are thankful for the fact that the Lord keeps God on our side!
God clearly wants us to celebrate and be thankful for His spiritual providence.
But, God also wants us to celebrate and be thankful for His material providence. That is why our annual celebration on the last Thursday of each November for thanksgiving purposes is emphasized. It is a helpful reminder that God is the source and supply of all that we have. God used Abe in 1863 to make Thanksgiving Day a national emphasis for the U.S. It has been good for us to have the celebration.
W.F. Vine says that “thanksgiving is the expression of joy God-ward, and is therefore the fruit of the Spirit.” The Bible says, “Be you thankful.”
Oh, by the way — my “Nurse Ratchet” recently informed me that she is going to let me enjoy Thanksgiving Day in the usual feast mode. I think the boys must have persuaded her to fix her fixings flavorably with seasonings and salts. Thank God! They may fuss at me to eat better, but they do not want to eat like their father is forced to eat by the “Nurse Ratchet” of the house.
That is why my celebration and thankfulness is just downright exciting this year! It will be the first time in several months I will get to eat some ham and add some salt and butter to my veggies.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.