by H.H. Pope Shenouda III
When we give thanks to the Lord, we are glorifying God, acknowledging His loving- kindness to us. Come, taste and live the life of Thanksgiving to God for His glorious works and love to us!
He who lives the
life of thanksgiving is a noble person, acknowledges and does not forget a
favor. He NEVER forgets any good offered to him, and expresses his thanks.
Thanksgiving is in his heart on his tongue for God and men. The Lord
Jesus blessed the Samaritan, who was the only one of the ten lepers who were
cleansed, he "fell down on his face at his feet, giving Him thanks."
So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed. But where are
the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except
this foreigner?" (Luke 17:17).
Therefore, when you give thanks, you are glorifying God, acknowledging His loving- kindness to you. "Give thanks always for all things" (Eph. 5:20) Giving thanks to God has no specific occasions but it must be "Always". As long as it is continuous, it covers the whole life and therefore the expression "Life of Thanksgiving" applies to it. The same teaching was explained in the first epistle to the Thessalonians, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing in everything give thanks" (1 Thess. 5:17-18). For this reason the Prayer of Thanksgiving precedes all other prayers in our Church.
Thanksgiving for All Things
The church begins with the prayer of thanksgiving even at funerals. The apostle says "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God " (Col. 3:17). We thank You in every occasion, in every condition and for all things. So, it is not only giving thanks always but also for all things because God continually makes good to us. The apostle said, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God " (Rom.8:28), either in the apparent good or in matters that seem not for good, but in fact it is good and we do not know!
For this we call God the "Beneficent", He does not do except good, and the person who believes in God's quality, gladly accepts everything which gives thanks to God. Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave; their action was in itself evil, treachery, and lack of love, cruelty and envy. But God changed that evil into good and Joseph "Was made a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of his people". ... He told his brothers, "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good ... to save many people alive" (Gen. 50-20).
The children of God are always joyful, they thank Him for all things. They thank Him from all their hearts, not only by words, but also by offering a sacrifice of praise, peace offerings or vows. As the prophet David says, "I will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all people" (Ps. 116:13,14). Levels of Thanksgiving The least is giving thanks for the miracles, gifts, great pleasures and the plentiful good things, …. There is a higher level of thanksgiving; to give thanks over little things…. If we gave thanks over a few things God will make us rulers over many things. Perhaps, among the advantages of thanksgiving are the continuity of the blessings and its increase, as one of the Church Fathers said,
"Not a gift without increase, except that without thanksgiving"...
There is also thanksgiving over what is hidden and unseen. Thanksgiving for the wars and troubles which were possible to come to us but did not because of God's keeping and care….. We give thanks for the hidden matters.. .. In all this, thanksgiving is mixed with love. Constant thanksgiving does not need a specific reason but it is enough that we are in God's care, and we are His children, and such feeling is connected with the life of submission.
Thanksgiving Over Tribulation
The highest level of thanksgiving is to give thanks to God over tribulations. We thank God over the tribulations from which He saved us…. But, what is greater than this is also thank Him over the prevailing tribulations which we bear and live in. By faith we believe it is for our good. To endure and bear tribulations, is a virtue. To be content with the tribulation and accept it is a greater virtue. And what is more important is to give thanks over the tribulation with complete surrender and joy. If we thank God for the gifts only, then our love is for the gifts not for God the giver Himself. But if we give thanks to God in tribulation we prove that we love God Himself and not for His gifts. We do not only love Him for the nice gifts He gives us, health, wealth, success, peace and comforts of life, but God must be our goal, either He gave us good things or tribulations.
We should not allow such events to take away our peace from us or our joy in the Lord. No matter what the outer circumstances may be, we rejoice in the Lord always and do not lose our peace with God and man. It is written that the fruits of the Spirit are "Love, peace, joy..." (Gal. 5:22), and our peace, comfort and joy will affect others and by our good example we lead others to God. Also, tribulation needs thanksgiving because it strengthens the spiritual life. It gives us depth in prayer and depth in our relationship with God...a severe tribulation leads man to repentance. More than a hundred sermons or reading many spiritual books. In tribulations, we see the hand of the Lord working,.. and His care and protection. In the tribulation, we see the hand of God, His wonders and His power. It gives-us experience we could not attain without it. Also, it sifts the Church and separates the tares; from the wheat. For all these reasons, we give thanks to God over tribulation and consider it a blessing. Of course the person who thanks over tribulation shall give thanks for all other things. He lives the constant life of thanksgiving and never murmurs or complains.
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