Feasting with God #2
“O, Give Thanks”
24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Every year we come back around to this day, this holiday known as “Thanksgiving.” Every year, I have also heard the discussions: What does this holiday really mean? Is it just a day to stuff our faces and get sick with what we eat? Is it a day for family and football? What are we really giving thanks for? Whom are we really giving thanks to? For Christians, the answers to these last two questions are really one and the same.
In the first place, we do indeed see the feast that is spread before us and our loved ones, and we thank God for providing for us bodily. Without God to provide food, no one could live. God is “he who gives food to all flesh” (Ps. 136:25), to man and animal alike. When we give thanks, then, we recognize God working in the world to care for us, and we are grateful for it.
But this is not enough. Even the well-fed will die. Remember the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus: poor Lazarus who couldn’t even get scraps from the Rich Man’s table, and the rich man “who feasted sumptuously every day” (Luke 16:19). They were very different in life, and yet when the “poor man died,” the “rich man also died” (Luke 16:22). The same end awaits us all: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades” (Is. 40:6-7). But there was a difference yet between Lazarus and the rich man, and here is where we find the other reason to give thanks.
The apostle Paul also saw the death that surrounded him, the death that awaited him, and the death that was in him. His very sins he felt weighing him down, dragging him closer and closer to hell. This is where the rich man ended up. Because his concern in life was only for his fleshly reward, only for the food that would fill his belly, the rich man condemned himself. But Paul here seeks rescue from that fate: “Who will deliver me?” he wonders. “Who will save me?” And yet he answers it immediately: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He knows that through his faith in God he has grasped the salvation won for him by Christ Jesus. Lazarus also could not rely on himself, but trusted completely in God’s providence. Because of that faith, Lazarus was delivered into heaven by the angels. Because of that faith, Paul saw how he was saved from his body of death. Because of that faith, we, too, are saved from the death of our souls on account of our many sins.
And Paul’s answer is every Christian’s answer to those two questions: “Whom are we really giving thanks to?” “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” “What are we really giving thanks for?” “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” We thank God and Christ for the salvation won for us by God and Christ. this is the essence of true Christian Thanksgiving.
Thank you Lord, God, Heavenly Father, for all you provide for our daily living and well-being. Thank you for the food and drink you give us to nourish our bodies, the air we breathe, the homes in which we find shelter, the family and friends with whom we find comfort and joy. And even as we thank you for our daily bread, we thank you also for your spiritual care, in that you sent your only Son to die for us, that whoever has faith in him may come to everlasting life, which you also provide for us freely. Continue to provide for us, as you have always done. We ask this in the name of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.