(This devotional is day twenty-nine of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Right now, in God’s presence, the heavenly hosts are giving thanks to God. Think about that. As we give thanks, we join the chorus of God’s creatures singing to Him. Revelation (not Revelations) pulls back the curtain between our world and God’s throne so we can glimpse this glorious spectacle. The angels, the beasts (which conjure images of the noble animals in C. S. Lewis’s world of Narnia), and the twenty-four elders offer God praise and thanksgiving.
“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!’
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever.” (Rev. 4:8-9)
Our earthly gratitude as God’s people joins us with God’s angels in heaven, and together, we give thanks to the One worthy of all our worship.
All this is happening at this very moment. And all this will happen for eternity when the heavens come down and God dwells with us on a New Earth (Rev. 21:1-8). Isaiah tells us on that day, we will feast like we’ve never feasted before (Is. 25:6-9). The most elaborate Thanksgiving Day meal can’t compare to the spread before us and the fellowship around us and the joy in us on that day. Such a feast will be full of gratitude, rejoicing, and worship as Christ and his Bride live together forever (Rev. 19:9; 21:9-22:5). We look forward to this day when “happily ever after” moves from a faint hope we dream of to the eternal reality we live in.
John of Revelation helps us understand that thanksgiving is not a temporary spiritual discipline. Gratitude doesn’t sprinkle in a little positivity in our otherwise painful lives in this fallen world. Thanksgiving will be at the heart of everything we do for eternity.
Notice the posture of praise and the tune of thanksgiving of God’s united people.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’” (Rev. 7:9-12)
If you are a Christian, meaning you trusted in Jesus alone by grace alone through faith alone, then this snapshot into the future has you in it. You are part of this people. Somewhere in the vast multitude of resurrected people John sees is you. And thanksgiving pours out in praises to the King. Gratitude will grip your heart and thanksgiving will leap from your tongue forever.
Then and Now
We give thanks now because we will give thanks for eternity. Practicing thanksgiving in the present prepares us for the never-ending concert of praise to come. Every tribe, tongue, and nation will celebrate together our redemption in Jesus.
Thanksgiving is our future vocation. We will finally enjoy all things and receive all things as God’s gifts. Rather than abusing them or turning them into idols, they will be blessings pointing us back to God. Whether it’s falling before His throne, or roaming the New Earth, everything will lead to God-centered gratitude.
I hope this vision of thanksgiving in God’s presence right now, and the thanksgiving that will take place in God’s presence in the age to come, can spur us on to thanksgiving in the here-and-now. Though we do not yet see Him like we will one day, we still know Him. Through the eyes of faith, we see His goodness, provision, faithfulness, care, and love toward us as His children. We’ve tasted His mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
The best training for our future is cultivating thanksgiving today. We prepare for eternity by giving thanks now.
Take time to review what you’ve learned about thanksgiving over the last thirty days. And don’t worry, there’s no exam at the end. Consider these questions to cement truths and practices into your life.
- What were some of your favorite verses, passages, or chapters on thanksgiving? Why?
- Are there any verses on thanksgiving you want to memorize or write down somewhere?
- What lessons on gratitude and thanksgiving stood out to you the most? Why?
- Where are you most tempted to grumble? How can you fight those areas of temptation toward grumbling, murmuring, and complaining by choosing to give thanks?
- Which ways of practicing thanksgiving did you find most beneficial? How can you continue these?
- How can thanksgiving be part of your daily rhythms?
- What are ways can you better recognize or spot God’s blessings around you every day? How do you turn these into opportunities to give thanks?
- Many of the days and the passages from the Bible connected thanksgiving to our fears, pain, anxiety, or suffering. Why should we include giving thanks in the hard aspects of life and not just the mountain-top experiences of tangible blessings?
- What are some attributes, actions, or promises of God that stood out to you and led to thanksgiving over the last month?
Give thanks to our great, gracious, and generous God. Don’t leave gratitude behind; build it into your life so it’s part of who you are and what you do moving forward. Give thanks today, tomorrow, and for all eternity.