Meditations for Saints Full Of Thanksgiving

So, we’ve all given thanks in a variety of ways. And, we’re all stuffed. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, baked sweet potatoes and onions, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, cranberry bread, cranberry salad, corn cake, apple pie, cherry pie, blueberry pie, French silk pie, mincemeat pie, coconut cream pie, pumpkin pie, and cans of whipped cream were all passed around our table. Some of almost all of it ended up on my plate, somehow. What does it mean? Of course, it means the Lord has blessed us abundantly this last year. But does it mean anything more?

Perhaps too-often overlooked is what a full belly means looking forward. One Psalm of thanks, Psalm 136, guides saints who have feasted on Thanksgiving Day to think about tomorrow.

This Psalm repeats the refrain “For his steadfast love endures forever” after each of twenty-six statements of God’s character or work. The opening verses of the Psalm call the people of God to give thanks for the goodness and supremacy of God. The body of the Psalm then instructs God’s people to remember his steadfast love in two ways. First, we are directed to remember him as Creator as the psalmist highlights various aspects of the creation story. Second, God is to be remembered and thanked as the Redeemer of his people. The deliverance of his people from Egyptian bondage vividly shines forth in these lines.

The Psalm then reminds us that the Lord has not only been gracious in past but that he has remembered us, the present singers, in our low estate. He has delivered us from our enemies. We must be grateful because his steadfast love has extended to our generation, right here in 2013. We have been redeemed by Jesus and we too anticipate the new heavens and the new earth.

The final verse calls us to give thanks to the God of heaven. We are to remember that his steadfast love endures forever. That is, it will extend beyond today. It will extend until tomorrow and even until the God of heaven takes us to heaven.

Tucked in the next-to-last verse, we remember that God gives food to all flesh. Why? The gift of food is not merely a mark of God’s steadfast love thus far. Today’s food is energy and strength to serve him in the future. The gift of food is itself a calling to serve God faithfully tomorrow – a time he has already promised to bless with his ever-extending steadfast love.

Thanksgiving always looks forward to future grace! Today’s feast is not merely a remembrance of past grace, but a calling for those stuffed with bounty to wake up ready to serve the Lord afresh tomorrow and forever.

Psalm 136

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

(English Standard Version)