“O sing unto the Lord a new song . . .” In our family, we’re singing a new song this Thanksgiving. Woody and I have just welcomed into the world our 11th grandchild, Bjorn and Abby their third son. Now we are nineteen! I’d like to introduce Lars Wheeler Anderson and his very grateful little family:
God gives great gifts, and we are overflowing with gratitude. It’s easy to sing a song of Thanksgiving just now.
But thanksgiving doesn’t always come so easily. Especially if we see the giving of thanks as dependent on particular circumstances in our lives. The interesting thing is that God calls us to more: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV) In everything . . . How in the world do we do that? How in this world do we do that?
At this time in America when our country is election-weary and future-wary and fractured down the middle in so many places, how do we do that? It’s hard for Thanksgiving songs to be heard amidst the chaos. It is, after all, an American holiday. And yes, more than a few people are finding their thanks-giving voices more than a little bit strained.
But the question becomes much more personal for so many people I know and love—and pray for every day. How do we give thanks amidst deep personal loss, terribly sick children, scary financial stresses . . . you know the list goes on and on. But still, we are called to give thanks.
Maybe sometimes it’s easier to sing it. I always think of Martin Luther’s friend’s advice to Luther amidst struggles with depression: “Let’s sing the Psalms, Martin. Let’s sing the Psalms.”
So what song shall we sing this Thanksgiving? I offer you my favorite. A favorite because it is so very real. It reflects the good times of life as well as the bad and the sad. But I love it mostly because it reminds us of the true basis of our gratitude. And above all, the One we should thank every day of our lives. It’s an old Swedish hymn, one we sang at the Fall funerals of both of Woody’s parents. One that sings in my heart often.
See the words below. If you’d like to hear it, here’s a link.
1. Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide.
Thanks for times now but a mem’ry,
Thanks for Jesus by my side.
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and dreary fall.
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul.
2. Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply.
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair.
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare.
3. Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain.
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain.
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee.
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity.
So there you have it: 24 reasons to give thanks. In the good times and the bad. In a word: Our Eternal God . . . with His Everlasting arms underneath. Always. Forever.
I’d like to leave you with a picture. It’s a picture that embodies much of my heart this Thanksgiving. It includes so much that I am thanking God for at this time of year. The pilgrims on the table were Woody’s mom’s. They joined our every Thanksgiving celebrated with her. The chairs in the background were my mom’s. I sat in them and admired them each time I visited with her in her little Florida condo; and when she moved to hospice, they were still there . . ., and now here. I love the view out our window. And how I cherish the family God has so graciously given us! Us . . . the ones who once wondered whether we would ever have children!
A thanksgiving challenge for you: Take a picture of things for which you are thankful. Make a list. Sing a song. Maybe sing a new song . . .