Giving Thanks to No One in Particular Must Feel Strange


Everybody I know, except turkeys (take that any way you wish), likes Thanksgiving. What’s not to like?

I’m sure there are people who are utterly alone for whom Thanksgiving is a difficult time. If, by the way, there were no other reason to be part of a church family, and I think there are many, the need for human companionship is itself a pretty good one! Even a person who is not at all sure about the claims of Christianity, but who doesn’t want to be lonely and alone, would do well to attend a church where an honest and unpretentious doubter would at least be made to feel cared for and loved. Thank God, there are many such churches!

Those who have to be at work on Thanksgiving may find it more difficult than most of us to enjoy the day as it was intended.

Those who are grieving over the loss of loved ones or weeping over the death of a marriage, those who have chosen to nurse a bitter spirit rather than their relationships, those who are dealing with deep depression and hurt, those in the midst of caring for loved ones who are seriously ill, I am sure may find Thanksgiving difficult.

But for most of us, Thanksgiving is a great time! It reminds us, even in the midst of some pretty difficult times, that we have much, much indeed, for which to be thankful to the Giver of all good gifts.

Ah, but what about those who don’t acknowledge the beneficence or even the existence of the Giver?

Understand, I don’t mean to be harsh. I have known some fine people who were skeptics—honest agnostics who, as the term implies, were truly searching and simply didn’t know what to believe. (The lion’s share of atheists, on the other hand, tend to be louder and less rational. They have an axe to grind and some reason why they really can’t afford for God to exist.) For such people, Thanksgiving must be a bit of a strange time. As author Cornelius Platinga observes, “It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to no one in particular.” Giving thanks “to whom it may concern” seems like pretty thin “gratitude.”

Though the holiday is not, of course, one that comes from the ancient Christian calendar, it is uniquely and deeply rooted in faith. Faith that this world is no accident. (I don’t have enough faith to believe otherwise!) Faith that men and women are created in the image of a personal and loving God. Faith that all of the bounty and beauty, the love and joy, that fill our lives come from Someone who is the Wellspring, the Source.

Bible scholar A. W. Tozer put it this way: “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and not be poorer but richer for having made it.”

Let’s give thanks!



Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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