Thanksgiving Versus Complaining

John Franklin

The pilgrims observed the first American Thanksgiving in 1621. The Bibles which they held in their hands were also hidden in their hearts. Because of their faith, they bore great hardships. The rounded graves were grim reminders that more than one half of their company had died, and no relief from their suffering was in sight. However, in the midst of their hardships and difficulties they gave thanks.

At the close of the Revolutionary War in which England lost 13 colonies, King George proclaimed a day of thanksgiving because of the return of peace. A chaplain said, “For what have we to give thanks:

– because you lost 13 of your brightest jewels?

– because we have added millions of dollars to the national debt?

– because tens of thousands of people have been killed?” “Thank God,” said the king, “that matters are not worse than they are.”

Regardless of the circumstances, we have much for which to be thankful. Allow me to share the following article by Rebecca Sirstad, published in the Oregon District Apostolic Accent (July 1995). This article is a reminder that our attitude of Thanksgiving is very important.


“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Thanksgiving and complaining – these words express two contrasting attitudes of God’s children regarding his dealings with them. The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; however, the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing.

God’s command is, “in everything give thanks”: It is a positive command. If we want to obey God, we must give thanks in everything.

Christians as a whole are a thankless group. The world considers it very rude for one man to receive benefits from another man and fail to thank him. Why then, is it not just as discourteous to fail to thank God? There are people who would never forget to send a note of thanks for any small gift from a friend. Yet, they have never given God thanks for one of the innumerable benefits He has been showering upon them their entire lives.

A great many not only fail to give thanks, but they do exactly the opposite. They allow themselves to complain and murmur about God’s dealings with them. Instead of looking for His goodness, they seem to delight in picking out His shortcomings.

“Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (Psalms 107-21-22)
Thanksgiving always involves praise of the giver. Have you ever noticed how often we are urged in the Bible to praise the Lord? It seemed to be almost the principal part of the worship of the Israelites. “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good. sing praises unto His name, for it is pleasant” (Psalm 135-3). This is the continual refrain throughout the Bible. There are more commands given and more examples set for the giving of thanks than for doing anything else.

It is very evident from the whole teaching of scripture that the Lord loves to be thanked and praised just as much as we do. Our failure to thank Him for His good and perfect gifts wounds His heart, just as our hearts are wounded when our loved ones fail to appreciate the benefits we enjoyed giving them. What a joy it is to us to receive thanks from our friends for our gifts. Certainly it is a joy to the Lord also. “in everything give thanks” is a very inclusive expression. It must mean that there can be nothing in our lives which does not provide a reason for thanksgiving. No matter who or what may be the channel to convey it, everything contains a hidden blessing from God. It is very hard for us to believe things are good when they do not look that way. Often the things God sends into our lives look like curses instead of blessings. Those who cannot see below the surface judge by the outward appearances only. They never see the blessed realities beneath.

Sir Moses Montetfiore, the Hebrew philanthropist, had as the motto of his family, ‘Think and Thank.’ In the old Anglo-Saxon language, thankfulness means “thinkfulness.” Thinking of all God’s goodnesses draws forth gratitude.