The Real Purpose of Giving Thanks

When I was little, sitting through church, I had what many would probably consider a pretty blasphemous thought: “Why does God NEED us to worship and praise Him?  Isn’t that kind of selfish and conceited?”

I couldn’t match the image in my mind of the warm, loving God who is willing to give us everything with one that somehow needs us to spend hours a week telling Him how great He is.  I mean, I was told to try to be like God and do nice things for people without having to be thanked for them…so, what gives?

This nagging thought, unfortunately, stuck with me through adolescence, young adulthood, and all the way to early parenthood.  While I always saw the wisdom and meaning in the parts of church that dealt with how to live a better life and be a better person, the *worship* part of it honestly felt like a waste of time- mine and God’s.  God’s already great, He knows this, He shouldn’t have to hear it over and over from me.

Then I was given ungrateful kids.

My beautiful children, whom I love with all my heart and work so hard to give them the best of everything.  These cherished souls, to whom I am enslaved and receive the bounty of all of my labors.  The three recipients of my inheritance, into whom I have poured every ounce of my wisdom, genetics, energy, and money.

And so often they don’t appreciate a lick of it.

And that’s the key word: appreciate.  When I work so hard to give my kids something, and then they don’t appreciate it, the tragedy is with them, not me: they’re not happy.  They don’t understand what a big gift it is, and how much they should be enjoying it.  Yes, it’s rude to me when they don’t say thank-you, but what hurts the most is that they don’t fully USE what I just gave them- they don’t see its wonderful qualities, give it the time it deserves, or allow it to make them content.  Because they don’t recognize the sacrifice that went into the gift, they don’t feel the love extending from it, showering them with adoration.

Because they don’t appreciate it, they don’t fully enjoy it.

THAT is the purpose of giving thanks.  That is the purpose of worship.  It’s for us.  When we stop to express gratitude, the pause helps us recognize and appreciate the gift.  By appreciating it, we enjoy it more. And when we enjoy something, we use it more.

This is what we want for our children- to fully appreciate, enjoy, and use the gifts we give them.  God wants nothing less for us.

And isn’t it so much more fun to give a gift to a child who fully appreciates it? I’m not saying God plays favorites, but if a gift would be wasted on one child and fully used by another, to whom would you give it?  We are all called to be God’s favored children, and it has nothing to do with ability or BEING “gifted.”

It’s about how we receive the gift.  It’s there- it’s just time to recognize and appreciate it.

It’s time to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!


One response to “The Real Purpose of Giving Thanks

  1. Thank you Jennifer, extremely insightful comments. And so important to hear. It is exactly this comprehension and appreciation of God’s ultimate gift to us that we finally come to understand grace and learn to live with joy!
    Recognizing the gift for the awesome display of love that it is. Perhaps this will help us feel the love that is directed toward us more (directed toward us more often than we realize). The love we just sort of “miss” because we do not see it for what it is.

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