We celebrated harvest festival on Sunday, remembering God’s amazing creation, and together giving thanks for everything: the harvest, our food, shelter, family, friends, salvation, and more!
God has made a remarkably diverse world: one animal’s refuse is another animal’s lunch! And yet the diverse ecosystem is perfectly balanced and resilient to change. And so, we should be thankful for God’s creation and provision (Psa 19:1). But careful too, because God has entrusted us with looking after the world he has created. Climate change and global warming, and plastic and chemical pollution are caused by human error, and were never part of God’s plan.
Whatever is going on in life, there is reason to be thankful to God. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he wrote: ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (1 Thes 5:18). When life is good, being thankful is easy: we have much to be thankful for, such as food, our homes, our family and friends, and our church. But when life is tough, being thankful can be harder: how can we be thankful when we’re worried where the next meal is going to come from, or when facing poor health, or when you or somebody close to you has a crisis of faith? I think this is what Paul meant in saying ‘give thanks in all circumstances’. Even when the chips are down, we have much to be thankful for.
One of the most powerful ways to show that we are thankful is to give to others. When the harvest came in, the Israelites were instructed to give some of the harvest to the poor, and some of the harvest back to God as an offering (Deut 24:19 and 26:2). These laws were designed to remind the Israelites that the harvest was from God, and did not belong to them. It’s the same with us: giving to those in need and giving a little to God remind us that all we have is on loan from God (2 Cor 9:6-7).
The biggest gift of all – and the ultimate reason for our thankfulness – is the salvation offered to us by God through Jesus: ‘But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (1 Cor 15:57).