Recently I received an email that might have been classified as “glurge”, apparently Patricia Chapin’s term for an over-sentimental story with a moral, which story might induce a kind of wretching that sounds like the term “glurge.”
This particular email was about people’s giving thanks no matter what, and the email listed examples of how, even in what otherwise might appear to be bad situations, there were still things for which people could be thankful.
For example, even if your house is poorly insulated, you can be thankful for a roof over your head; or, even if your clothes are out of style, you can be thankful that you have clothes for your body; or, even if you have trouble walking, you can be thankful that you are not confined to a wheelchair or bed.
To be sure, the idea of giving thanks in all circumstances is a Biblical one, for the Divinely-inspired St. Paul writes specifically to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV), to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything … with thanksgiving [to] let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 ESV; confer Matthew 6:25), and of “giving thanks always and for everything” (Ephesians 5:20 ESV).
However, Christians’ giving thanks to God is not primarily because things could be worse but because things are so good: whatever negative or even positive things that we might experience here and now in our earthly lives, we have much greater blessings now and in the life to come.
A portion of the historical Christian liturgy for Easter confesses that then we are most-especially bound to praise God for the glorious resurrection of His Son Jesus, Who was sacrificed for us and bore the sins of the world, providing repentant believers forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation through His Word and Sacraments (Baptism, individual Absolution, and Holy Communion).
This coming Thursday might be a Harvest Observance (with a focus on Deuteronomy 26:1-11; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; and Luke 12:13-21) or a national Day of Thanksgiving (with a focus on Deuteronomy 8:1-10; Philippians 4:6-20 or 1 Timothy 2:1-4; and Luke 17:11-19).
Regardless of the particular focus and of things like the coronavirus, its potential impact on our holiday observances, and whatever else, we heed Holy Scripture’s call: “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever” (for example, Psalm 136:1 KJV). Amen!
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.