(Pictured: NOT the rainbow I saw…)
This morning I saw a rainbow on my way to work. Now, I’ve seen many rainbows in my life, but they always make me take notice. Moreover, this one was close. It was between me and a hillside, and the hillside was no more than a couple hundred feet away. I’ve never seen that before! Meanwhile, my car was caught in a rain shower that ended as quickly as it had begun. And to think my usual commute routine just involves getting irritated with other drivers!
In all honestly, rainbows always remind me of God’s faithfulness, thanks to the promises enumerated after the flood in Genesis 9. And to have a rainbow so close this morning was meaningful indeed. My commute was, so to speak, bathed in God’s promise. This got me thinking about the idea of thankfulness.
Of course, tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday. A common exercise around this holiday is to review things for which one is thankful. I’m thankful for my home. My family. My health. And so on. And while I believe it is certainly worthwhile to count our blessings, I don’t believe this is what thankfulness is all about. That’s gratefulness. The word “gratefulness” is related to “gratitude”, both of which are derived from a Latin word meaning pleasing, acceptable, beloved, etc. In short, gratitude focuses on the gift. Thankfulness focuses on the giver. So, while it’s not wrong to review things we are grateful for, thankfulness calls us to emphasize whom we are thankful to.
(Yes, I know, the two words are often used interchangeably, and their meanings are not mutually exclusive. It’s possible to be grateful to someone or thankful for something. But come on, split the hair with me a minute.)
When I review the blessings in my life – and they are many, I am moved to give thanks to God. Who else but God could orchestrate a marriage that, in spite of all the strains and pains two imperfect people bring to it, grows sweeter every year? Who else but God could devise a path for my life that, without knowing what is around the next corner, covers me one step at a time in grace and blessing? Who else but God could take all my missteps, all my poor choices, all my weaknesses and turn them into my good and His glory?
So this Thanksgiving, yes, I’m grateful for my many blessings. But I am thankful to the One who made them all possible.
In my estimation, this is like the second half of 1 Peter 2:9, quoted below in the NASB:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
I’m grateful to be out of darkness and into the light. And now I can express my thankfulness – “proclaim the excellencies” – with regard to the Giver of so many gifts I could never count them all.
How about you? Have you sat down to think through your own thankfulness list this year? I would encourage everyone in this effort. There may be dozens, hundreds of things for which you are grateful. But don’t forget to be thankful.