Thanksgiving in the midst of war is not an incongruity; it is one of our chief weapons. The Lord prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies (Ps. 23:5). We are not yet privileged to sit down in Isaiah’s hall, where the trumpet and spear are mounted in places of honor, where we may celebrate as those who never have to study war again. Until we are ushered into that era (by the conquering gospel), we must learn to keep our powder of faith dry and our hearts full of gratitude.
The Lord inhabits the praise of His people (Ps. 22:3), and the God who inhabits these praises is a great warrior.”The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name” (Ex. 15:3). “The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies” (Is. 42:13). The Lord is not only a warrior, He is a good one.
We are privileged to offer our thanks to God on a weekly basis. Our celebration of the rite of bread and wine is a eucharistic act, and eucharist means thanksgiving. This is the culmination of our weekly worship; this is the crown of our labors. And it is thanksgiving because all our labors are the result of Christ’s labor’s for us, and within us. With this civil holiday, we are privileged to point unbelievers to these same gospel realities, and to do so through a feast that they still celebrate with us, and under the proper name of Thanksgiving.
We need to help keep things oriented. The capstone really needs to be the capstone. I am thankful for the pies, and for my dear wife’s giftedness in making them. I am thankful for the fact that my children love the Lord, and their children with them. I thankful for the gravy. I am thankful for the televised football games. I thank God for His financial provision for us, and I thank Him for the green beans with pistachios in them.
I am thankful that I am invited to ask for things beyond what I have deserved, but never beyond what Christ has purchased on my behalf.
But the capstone is this. As we all labor at our place along the wall, as we sweat on the scaffolding, we are privileged to set our individual bricks of gratitude. There is a place even for the smallest ones. But as the wall goes up, we must think about the capstone. The capstone for all thanksgiving is the fact that God has determined to save the entire world through Jesus Christ. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Despite the ongoing warfare, and despite the fact that the principalites and powers have not yet reconciled themselves to their final defeat, I am thankful to live in a saved world.