Be Thankful, Always.
From the first Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, and through Abraham Lincoln's call for an annual Thanksgiving celebration on the final Thursday in November in 1863*, and through Ocean Spray first canning jellied cranberry sauce in 1912, and through the first presidential pardon of a turkey by George H.W. Bush in 1989, Americans have enjoyed the traditions and excesses of gathering together as a family, eating and drinking until you can't move off of the couch and falling asleep with football blaring on the TV only to wake suddenly and pile everyone in the pickup to get down to Bass Pro Shop (or Kohls) for some sweet early bird deals.
The noise of life we experience during the Thanksgiving holiday will sometimes drowns out the very act of giving thanks. The heart-felt gratitude can get covered up in the excesses of the day. And while Thanksgiving (and all of its trimmings) seems uniquely American, we know that we didn't invent it. In fact, the bible has a lot to say about being thankful and frequently calls on us to thank God for our many blessings.
Bible verses on being thankful are akin to low-hanging fruit, there are so many you could pick from Psalms alone and have plenty, but it's good to be reminded that when Jesus is your Lord, you are a blessed child of God. Happy Thanksgiving!
*Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first to suggest moving Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday to allow more time for Christmas shopping. The year was 1939 and the Great Depression was winding down. Roosevelt felt moving the day back one week would boost the economy but the suggestion wasn't well received; some people took to calling it "Franksgiving" and a political opponent even compared Roosevelt to Hitler. Congress officially moved the holiday in 1941.
*Also, George Washington was the first president to proclaim a Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate the American victory at Saratoga. It was Sarah Josepha Hale (she wrote, "Mary had a little lamb") who petitioned Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving an annual harvest celebration referencing back to the Pilgrim's feast. The whole Thanksgiving history is pretty cool to read about.
The entirety of Psalm 23 is an ode to Thanksgiving.
Psalm 23:1-6 1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3. he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 100, too!
Psalm 100: 1-5 1. Shout for joy to the Lord , all the earth. 2. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The Psalms are full of thanksgiving, here are just some:
Psalm 9:1 1. I will praise you, O Lord , with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.
Psalm 95:2-3 2. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 3. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
Psalm 107:1 1. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 118:28-29 28. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-3 1. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good. His love endures forever. 2. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
Psalm 50:23 23. He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."
Psalm 69:30 30. I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 107:8-9 8. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, 9. for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 7:17 17. I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
Psalm 28:7 7. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
The Psalms are not the only place in the old testament instructing us to be thankful. Consider the following verses:
1 Chronicles 16:34 34. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Chronicles 5:13 The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord . Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: "He is good; his love endures forever." Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud,
Jeremiah 30:19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.
Jeremiah 33:11 11. the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord , saying, "Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever." For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,' says the Lord.
Lamentations 3:22-24 22. Because of the Lord 's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Isaiah 12:4 4. In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the Lord , call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Nehemiah 12:46-47 46. For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47. So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.
The new testament is full of thankful saints.
Luke 17:11-18 11. Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13. and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" 14. When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 15. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. 17. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18. Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?
1 Corinthians 1:4-5 4. I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5. For in him you have been enriched in every way--in all your speaking and in all your knowledge--
2 Corinthians 4:15 15. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 14. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 9:10-15 10. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Philippians 4:6-7 6. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:12-13 12. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Colossians 3:15-17 15. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Ephesians 1:15-16 15. For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16. I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 5:15-21 15. Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16. making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20. always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 15. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16. Be joyful always; 17. pray continually; 18. give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 1. I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2. for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4. who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 4:4-5 4. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5. because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
Philemon 1:4-5 4. I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5. because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.
Hebrews 12:26-29 26. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." 27. The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29. for our "God is a consuming fire."
Hebrews 13:14-16 14. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
James 1:2-4 2. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3. because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:12-17 12. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13. When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14. but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
And my favorite:
Matthew 14:19-21 19. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.