I got this in an email from a dear friend… too good not to share:
You remember the story of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, who sent singers ahead of his army to praise the God who fought on their behalf. I reread that story this morning and was struck by what Jehoshaphat told the singers to sing:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (II Chron 20:21)
Since it’s Thanksgiving Eve, I thought I’d share my meditation on this Scripture.
This is phrased in the imperative. Lord, I obey the instruction given through your Word. You command me to give, and I obey.
I give thanks to you. By commanding me to give, you suggest that I have something to offer you. Is this itself an expression of your steadfast love – you command me to give thanks because you designed me for that purpose and know it will benefit me? In any case, I give it, even if I’m not sure why. Even if it is only my thanks, I give it freely to you. I bring a sacrifice of praise into your house.
I do not merely offer my gratitude, I give thanks – that is, I express my gratitude to you.
We give thanks for a benefit conferred or anticipated. Our thanks point back to the benefit and to our benefactor. To give thanks is to prompt the question, to whom are we giving thanks, and why?
The word “thanks” is etymologically related to “think.” From dictionary.com: [Origin: bef. 900; (n.) ME: favorable thought, goodwill, gratitude, (in sing. and pl.) expression of thanks; OE thanc (in sing.) expression of thanks, orig., thought, thoughtfulness; (v.) ME thanken, OE thancian (c. D, G danken); akin to think 1] So our thanks are a thoughtful way of expressing our gratitude. They are good manners. Manners are a means of showing respect (again prompting the question, whom are we respecting?).
If our thanks reflect our thoughtfulness, do our thoughts also reflect our thankfulness?
To give thanks is literally an act of faith, and pleases God for the same reason as any. To express thanks is to actualize the gratitude we feel in our hearts. By uttering our thanks, we give mere gratitude the creative power of the spoken word. Our gratitude then becomes a witness to ourselves and to others.
… to the Lord …
We worship a God to whom we can directly address our thanks!
He is not a force or an urge but a person.
He wants not only to speak to us, but to hear from us.
In this context, he is the (not a, or even my) Lord – not only my sovereign, but the ruler of all things – the one who works all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
… for his steadfast love …
Again, God is a person but he is more – he loves, but not as we love – it must be emphasized that his love is steadfast. Steadfast means “undeviating in constancy and devotion.” God’s love never deviates from its object: me. He never turns his love even one degree away from me in either direction. And it never varies in intensity. God loves me as much today as he did yesterday and as he will tomorrow. That’s because his love is not based on my merits but on his character.
… endures forever.
Here we have almost a triple redundancy for emphasis: God’s love, (a) which is steadfast – “unwavering in its constancy or devotion” – (b) endures (c) forever. When this is the subject of our thanks, how can we not freely offer it from our hearts? And how could it feel like a sacrifice.
“Endures” is an interesting word to describe love. We think of love as soft. A love that endures is a love that is literally hard – the word comes from the Latin “endurare,” to harden. A love like this can survive any blow and outlast every trial. No matter what we go through, at the other end of it that rock will still be there – a mighty fortress and a firm foundation.
Lord, on this Thanksgiving day, I give thanks first and foremost to you, for your enduring love.