Summary: Does thanking someone come to us naturally, or do we need to be coaxed into thanking others? How about when it comes to God? Can we be intentional in thanking God and others?
Attitude of Gratitude
The topic chosen for the month is Attitude with Gratitude. We all know that Thankfulness is important, but still, it is necessary for us to be constantly reminded about this fact.
I like statistics. So, whenever I get a topic, I try to do some research into it. This time I decided to look into the Bible and see some interesting statistics about Thanksgiving. Let us see how much you know about this. Go along and share your thoughts with me. Just to be clear, I am using NIV this time for my research (Other translations might have minor differences)
What is the first time Thanksgiving is mentioned in the Bible? Actually this came as a surprise to me personally. The books of Genesis and Exodus are full with miraculous signs and wonders and great deeds of God. You would naturally expect that the concept of Thanksgiving is mentioned in these two books many times. However, it is not so. First mention of Thanksgiving in the Bible is in the book of Leviticus. (Leviticus 7:12-15). Isn’t it interesting to note that throughout the book of Genesis and Exodus, the concept of Thanksgiving is not mentioned or recorded. Adam and Eve did not thank God for the beautiful creation that God entrusted to them. Abraham does not seem to have thanked the Lord for giving him a son at his ripe old age. Of course, the concept of worshipping the Lord is mentioned, but not Thanksgiving by itself. The families of Isaac and Jacob contended with the blessings of God, rather than thanking Him for the same. Joseph’s brothers do not thank him or the Lord for the way God made him a big man in Egypt and thereby saved them all from certain death. Not even after the Spectacular miracles of crossing the red sea, or provision of Manna did the Israelites. The more I think about it, the more perplexed I became. Then I thought about our own culture. Before I became a Christian, I never actually gave much importance to Thanksgiving. At my home I never said thank you to my mother or my brothers when they did anything for me. It was all considered their duty. Don’t get me wrong. I was certainly happy with the things that they did to me, or the gifts that they gave me etc. But the formal expression of Thanksgiving never happened. The formal expression of Thanksgiving happened more because of my education, and the so called westernization. But before I became a Christian, the concept of Thanksgiving still remained a formal, nice to do thing. This is an interesting study, and actually can be seen when we contrast Old Testament with New Testament with respect to the concept of Thanksgiving. It is very interesting to note that the concept of Thanksgiving appears first time in the Bible as a law, as a mandatory sacrifice that the Israelites were required to offer. It appears as if God knew about the ungrateful nature of mankind and wanted to institute this concept among mankind through the mosaic covenant of the law.
Let us continue with the statistics, shall we? The next one should be easy. Which book is Thanksgiving mentioned last? Of course it is in Revelation, we cannot go beyond that right? However it is in Rev 11:17, not at the end of the book. Altogether, Thankfulness appears about 370 times in the NIV version of the bible. Don’t confuse it with the word Thanksgiving itself. That word appears much lesser. Which book of the Bible talks about this most? Again , a no brainer, it is the Psalms. (about 78 times). There are about 8 Psalms that are specifically Thanksgiving Psalms. But here again, if we actually leave out David, there are very few places where Thanksgiving is mentioned in Old Testament. Interestingly, after Leviticus the first Bible verse giving thanks is by David in 2 Samuel 22:50. And after David, we find thanks giving only in Ezra and Nehemiah. Even in the book of Job, we do not see this concept highlighted. So basically, with the notable exception of David (Chronicles and Psalms) the concept of Thanksgiving is not a popular topic in the Old testament.
So what does this tell us? Firstly, thankfulness or an attitude of Gratitude is not something that comes naturally to us. Our default wiring is to be ungrateful. Our default setting is to take things for granted and murmur and complain when things do not go right. Our natural tendency is to look at what is wrong, rather than what is good. It is easier to see the glass half empty than half full. We are experts at finding out the wrongs of others. We do not automatically count our blessings.