Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, a season to stop and give thanks. Just the word lifts the spirit. To say thanks is to celebrate a gift. Something. Anything. To say thanks is to cross the tracks from have-not to have-much, from the excluded to the recruited. Thanks proclaims, “I’m not disadvantaged, disabled, victimized, scandalized, forgotten, or ignored. I am blessed.” Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts. It flushes the self-pity out of our systems.
In Scripture the idea of giving thanks is not a suggestion or recommendation; it is a command. It carries the same weight as “love your neighbor” and “give to the poor.” More than a hundred times, either by imperative or example, the Bible commands us to be thankful. If quantity implies gravity, God takes thanksgiving seriously.
Here’s why. Ingratitude is the original sin. Adam and Eve had a million reasons to give thanks. The waterfalls and fowl, shorelines and sunsets. God found Eden so delightful, he strolled through it in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). Adam and Eve found the garden so safe, they wore no clothing (Gen. 2:25). They had nothing to hide and no one to hide from. They indwelt a perfect world. One with creation, one with God, one with each other. Eden was a “one-derful” world.
But then came the snake. Satan slithered into the garden. He raised a question about the forbidden tree. Adam and Eve could eat from all the others. But Satan focused on the single fruit they could not touch. “‘Eat it,’ he hissed, ‘and you will be like God'” (Gen. 3:5 NLT).
Just like that, Eden was not enough. It was enough, mind you. Ecological harmony. Relational purity. Spiritual peace. Adam and Eve had all they would ever need. God had told them, “I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food” (Gen. 1:29 NLT).
They had their very own produce section. “But there could be more . . .” suggested the devil, gesturing to the shiny, glimmering delicacy that lay just across the boundary line. And with that thought Eve felt the first flush of discontent. Rather than ponder the garden of fruit she had, she examined the one fruit God forbade. Discontent moved in like a bully on the block.
What if gratitude had won the day? Suppose an unbedazzled Adam and Eve had scoffed at the snake’s suggestion. “Are you kidding? Begrudge what we cannot eat? Have you seen this place? Strawberry patches. Melon fields. Orange groves. Blueberry bushes. Let us take you on a tour, snake. We will show you what God has given to us.”
Had they chosen gratitude, would the world be different?
If you choose gratitude, will your world be different?