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November 23, 2011

Once a year on Thanksgiving, we are invited to participate in two activities: eating and giving thanks. I think most of us find the former easier than the latter.

I’ve been reflecting on the difficulty of giving thanks over the last few days. Why is it hard for me to give thanks? What do I need to believe to be better at giving thanks? I think it comes down to three things.

First, I have a sense of entitlement. I really believe that I deserve blessing. This posture isn’t even a result of Christian faithfulness. Rather, I believe that I own my possessions and, as a result, life should go well for me.

Let me explain. I think I own my physical, spiritual, relational and intellectual possessions and because of this, I should be able to dispense goodness wherever and whenever I want. For example, I may believe I own my body. Because of this, I do things like take care of it by exercising and eating with the expectation that things will go well for me. And when things do indeed go well, I don’t give thanks because things are supposed to go well. When things go bad, I get angry because things aren’t supposed to go badly. All of this is because I believe I own my body as opposed to understanding it is given to me as a gift. Owners don’t give thanks, receivers do.

Second, I shouldn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reality is that God is the owner of everything. Everything I have comes from him. Moreover, God does not owe me blessing. Though he is the owner and dispenser of all things, he doesn’t have to give me any of them.

Third, though God owns everything and doesn’t have to give away what he owns, he does. He gives gifts, good gifts, because he loves us and is merciful and gracious.

I think once I begin to grasp these realities, giving thanks will become easier. I hope it does, even easy as eating a feast.



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