Thankful to Whom?
In this devo, we look at three attributes of God. As we reflect on what we have to be thankful for, we must also remember to whom we are thankful.
BY Hannah Buchholz
The 4th of July and Thanksgiving were my favorite holidays growing up. Those were the holidays my cousins would come to visit. Gifts are not my love language, but quality time is, and time spent with them felt like a gift. There were 14 of us (13 girls and one boy), and we were all around the same age. So these holidays were like one long, giggly sleepover. Some of my best memories come from those long weekends and Thanksgiving meals.
As a pre-Thanksgiving dinner tradition, one of the adults would give a short devo about being thankful for our daily bread. Your family may have a similar tradition where everyone at the table says something they are grateful for.
Gratitude is so important to keep our hearts soft. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how important it is to remember who we are thankful to, not just what we are thankful for — the who matters. Scripture tells us that God our Father gives us good and perfect gifts (James 1:17, Matthew 7:11).
In this Thanksgiving devo, I’d like to meditate on 3 of the Lord’s attributes I am thankful for:
1) He is a God who sees
In Genesis 16, Sarah and Abram horribly mistreat their Egyptian servant, Hagar. Through a series of manipulative events, Hagar becomes pregnant and flees the camp. The Angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Jesus) finds her in the wilderness and sends her back with a promise that her son will become a great nation. There, she calls God “the one who sees me” or El Roi. Fast forward to Genesis 21; 14 years have passed. Sarah has had a son of her own, Isaac, and she insists Hagar and her son Ishmael be sent away. Hagar again is in despair, convinced death is around the corner for her and Ishmael. God visits Hagar, reminds her of His promise to make Ishmael a great nation, provides them with water, and “was with the boy as he grew up” (Gen 21:20).
The first time we find the pre-incarnate Jesus on the scene is visiting a pregnant Egyptian - not Israelite - mother who has been abused by God’s covenant couple. This story shows us that our God sees and cares for everyone.
Maybe you feel less than worthy of being part of God’s family. Maybe you’ve been cast aside. Maybe your sin has led you somewhere you don’t want to be. In a world where it increasingly feels harder to be seen and heard, we have a God who sees us. And not only does He see us in our weakness, he intimately knows our needs and provides for them. He fully knows our hearts, and still, we are fully loved by Him.
Because of who God is, He sees us. Because of who God is, He provides forgiveness and restores our brokenness through the work of Christ on the cross. Because of who God is, He delights over us.
2) He is a God who never changes
Have you ever sat with the idea that God is immutable? I have a hard time wrapping my head around the thought of something never changing. But knowing God is unchanging affects the way we read scripture. It keeps us from falling into the confusion about who God is.
Maybe you’ve heard it said that ‘the God of the Old Testament isn’t the same as the God of the New Testament.’ Or that the God of the Old Testament is full of wrath, and we want the New Testament God who offers grace. When we realize God doesn’t change, our eyes open to His grace throughout the whole Bible.
The same God who proclaimed himself to Moses as “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6) proclaims himself to us the same way. He was merciful and gracious. He is merciful and gracious. He will continue to be merciful and gracious. He was slow to anger. He is slow to anger. He will continue to be slow to anger. He was abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He will continue to abound in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Any attribute that is true of God in scripture is still true of Him today. It’s something worth meditating on.
3) He is a God who forgives
In Luke 5, Jesus is teaching and healing in Capernaum. You know the story: 4 friends lower their paralyzed friend down through the roof, hoping Jesus will heal him. Before He heals the man, Jesus tells him his sins are forgiven. Jesus’ statement sends the religious leaders into a tizzy. They’re convinced that He is a blasphemer. They say, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knows their grumbling and asks, “What is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?” Proving His point, he does both: forgives the man’s sins and heals his paralysis. The man leaves out the front door, walking and carrying the mat he came in on.
What do you think is easier? To heal or forgive? If you’ve ever been deeply hurt by someone you love, then you know how hard it can be to say the words ‘I forgive you,’ mean them, and then move on living in that forgiveness.
Forgiveness comes with a cost. The book of Hebrews explains how the year-in and year-out Jewish sacrificial system can never result in lasting atonement. We needed a better high priest or mediator and a better sacrifice.
Hebrews 9 says, “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands (only a model of the true one) but into heaven itself so that he might now appear in the presence of God for us. He did not do this to offer himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another. Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment— so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (CSB)
Jesus offers true forgiveness because He came down into our brokenness, took all the wrongs we commit daily upon Himself on the cross, and died the death we deserve. Because of His great love for us, He suffered in our place. Now, Jesus stands before the Father, advocating for us and pleading our case. This gift of salvation means we will live with Him forever in the new creation.
Who Jesus is and what He has done for us makes all the difference. Who we are thankful to matters just as much as what we are thankful for. Knowing who gives us the life-giving gifts of forgiveness, mercy, and sanctification changes our whole purpose in life. He fully knows us and fully loves us.
What attributes of God make you especially thankful? I encourage you to spend some time journaling about them and thanking Him in prayer today. Find a list of His attributes here to help your study.
Heavenly Father, every good and perfect gift comes from You. This season, help us not only look at all the things or people in our lives we have to be thankful for but also to remember who you are - and why it matters! Your love sustains us. Your mercy renews us. Your grace saves us. Let us rejoice in You and tell others of Your wondrous deeds. Thank you for the gift of salvation through Your Son’s sacrifice. In Your holy name, we pray, amen.
The Lutheran High Community Is Thankful For...
The Lutheran High Community shares what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Devo: Give thanks . . . because He said so?
Thanking God isn't just something we do when we feel like it, it's a command. Let's look at why and learn how praise deepens our relationship with Him.