What’s your favorite way to say thank you?
Are you a note writer or a gift giver? Do you make a phone call or do you send a text?
Maybe you prefer the personal touch – a quick hug and a big smile and a, “Thank you so-o-o much!”
Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. There’s something about giving thanks that changes things. It makes a difference.
As I was thinking about giving thanks on this Thanksgiving morning, I thought about Jesus miraculously feeding large crowds of people with a few fish and a few small loaves of bread. When Jesus fed the five thousand, the gospel writers tell us, “He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.” (see Mark 6:30-44, also Matt. 14:13-21)
Shortly thereafter, we find Jesus miraculously feeding four thousand. Matthew writes, “He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” (see Matt. 15:29-38, also Mark 8:1-9)
Each time, everyone ate until they were satisfied. Each time, they had more food leftover than when they had started. And the crowds were larger than we often imagine, because in traditional Jewish fashion, only men of a certain age were counted. Each man represented a family unit and many would have had wives and children, unmarried sisters and widowed mothers with them.
I picture Jesus, standing among that crowd of people with a humble boy’s lunch in His hands, a simple lunch of pita bread and small dried fish. He lifts His eyes to His Father in heaven, He lifts up that simple fare and He gives thanks. And when He had given thanks, that’s when the miracle happened.
Was giving thanks a significant factor? Did it really make a difference? Was the miracle a result of Jesus giving thanks?
I believe the giving of thanks is significant, but perhaps not for the reasons one might think.
First, I believe that Jesus’ act of giving thanks is a reflection of His character and of His relationship with His Father. Reading in the gospels, Jesus made it clear that He did not act on His own, but always in concert with God the Father.
Second, I believe the disciples and the crowd were changed as they watched Jesus give thanks for that humble offering. Giving thanks may not change our circumstances, but giving thanks changes us. Gratitude changes our attitude.
When we give thanks, we take our eyes off ourselves and our situation, we acknowledge that we are not alone, we recognize that hope and help has been given.
When we give sincere thanks to God, our faith grows. When we put our faith and trust in God, He works in ways we might never have imagined.
Spend some time this season thinking of all the things you are truly thankful for and take the opportunity to express your thanks to God. Gratitude may just change your attitude and that, in itself, may be the miracle you need today.