Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving,and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100)
Thanksgiving is always big at our house. We will have 30 friends and family members gathering together again this year (not an uncommon number for us). It can be a somewhat stressful time as we prepare 45lbs of turkey, multiple sides, pies, etc. Just cleaning the house for such an event is a lot of work. But the day itself really is a lot fun. It’s loud with laughter, children, and good conversation.
One year, while eating together, my grandmother did what grandmothers do. She asked, “Can we all go around and share what we are thankful for?” Of course we did it, but my internal response was, “O, come on! This is cheesy. Sappy. This will turn into some kind of sentimental sob-fest. How can I sneak off into the garage?” I know. I’m a terrible person.
My balking at the idea of “sharing” had nothing to do with a sensitive social palate that found empty sentimentality distasteful. We had worked hard to prepare the house and the event, but I had not prepared my heart. Though I was surrounded by tremendous blessings I was, in that moment, blind to it all. The house was loud on Thanksgiving, but my heart was quiet.
A thankful heart is never silent. It speaks. It sings! It makes lots of noise. Christian thanksgiving is loud because it doesn’t merely see the gifts, but the Giver of the gifts. And in seeing Him we are moved in humble adoration and worship for receiving what we do not deserve. The heart that is full of grace over flows in praise to God. As J. R. Miller once noted, “The Christliest life–is the one that is always keyed to the note of praise and thanksgiving.”1
When we give thanks to the Lord we make known “his deeds among the peoples” (1 Chr. 16:8). This, in turn, becomes a great means by which the hearts of others are turned to the Lord. Make no mistake about it; when your face is lifted to heaven and your voice lifted up in praise it shines on those around you. The opposite is true as well. A thankless, grumbling hear lures others into the same sad state that you are in at that moment.
Another reason for cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving is because of the influence it ultimately will have on others. No one loves a sullen person. Believers in Jesus Christ are exhorted to think on “whatsoever things are lovely,” and cheerlessness is not lovely. If we would attract others to Christ, and have a beneficial influence over them, we must cultivate happiness in all our expressions. There are many people who have formed the habit of unhappiness. They may be good and honest—but they have not learned the lesson of gladness. Because of this, they are just not helpful to others. They are not diffusers of joy.
We are as responsible for our faces as we are for our dispositions. If we go about with gloomy countenances, we will cast shadows over others and make life harder for them. No one can be a blessing to others until he or she has overcome gloom and has attained a thanksgiving face. No one can be of very much help to others if he carries discontent and anxiety on his countenance. We owe it to our friends, therefore, as well as to ourselves, to form the habit of thanksgiving. There are those who have learned this lesson so well, that wherever they go they seem to create happiness. In short, their lives are blessings. Again, Miller explained:
Another reason for cultivating the thanksgiving spirit, is because of its influence on others. Nobody loves a sullen person. We are exhorted to think of “whatever things are lovely,” and cheerlessness is not lovely. If we would have people like us, if we would attract them to us and have good influence over them—we must cultivate happiness in all our expressions. There are many people who have formed the habit of unhappiness. They may be good and honest—but they have not learned the lesson of gladness. And they are not helpful people. They are not diffusers of joy.
We are as responsible for our faces—as we are for our dispositions. If we go about with gloom on our countenances, we will cast shadows over others and make life harder for them. No one can be a real blessing to others, until he has mastered his gloom and has attained the thanksgiving face. No one can be of very much help to others, if he carries discontent and anxiety on his countenance. We owe it to our friends, therefore, as well as to ourselves, to form the habit of thanksgiving.
There are those who have learned this lesson so well, that wherever they go they make happiness. Their lives are blessings.2
When my grandmother led us into a time of giving thanks at our Thanksgiving meal my heart was melted by her tears of joy, and I was brought back to the overwhelming richness of God’s grace. As we all head into this Thanksgiving holiday, let us take time to reflect on all that the Lord has given us in Christ. May we savor every blessing in this life, and those we wait for in the life to come, and let our thanksgiving be loud.
- An except taken from J. R. Miller, Christian Essentials