Giving Thanks
Giving Thanks

Good things verses things that are good for us

Homily Excerpt from Protopresbyter Vasile Tudora...

Every year on Thanksgiving Day‚ we give thanks to God for our wonderful life. We rejoice in the fruits of the earth (with or without feathers) gathered around a table of abundance. A good thing indeed! Saint Basil the Great advised us to do this as early as the 4th century:

”When you sit down to eat‚ pray. When you eat bread‚ do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine‚ be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress‚ thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars‚ throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly‚ when the sun goes down and when it rises‚ when you are asleep or awake‚ give thanks to God‚ who created and arranged all things for your benefit‚ to have you know‚ love and praise their Creator.”

To give thanks for all the abundance of God’s gifts is a wonderful thing‚ but the Holy Apostle Paul announces that even more than this is necessary. He calls us to give thanks to God at all times for all things! (Ephesians 5:20). It is easy to understand what “at all times” means‚ but what are these “all things” that we should be thankful for…Are we supposed to give thanks only for those that give us pleasure and comfort‚ which make our life easier‚ what we generally consider to be positive?

How about the trials that God allowed these martyrs to go through? Were they to give thanks even for those? Rather than us answering‚ let us hear the saints speak. Here is how the New Martyrs Joseph and Isaac from Georgia prayed before they were beheaded by the emir of Theodosiopolis:

“O Holy King and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ‚ look down upon Thy servants with mercy and receive us as a holy sacrifice. Number us among Thy martyrs and make us worthy of the crown of righteousness‚ for every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from Thee‚the Father of lights (c.f. James 1:17)!”

They actually considered their death “a perfect gift from above”! What else‚ if not this‚ is truly giving thanks for all things…God however is not an entrepreneur fortune teller‚ and He provides us with what we actually need‚ not with what the marketing says that we need. We might have a limited material perspective‚ anchored in our short earthly lives‚but He has a heavenly view rooted in the eternity of the human existence. He knows what we need and He gives it abundantly‚ although it might not fit our plans. Growing in this understanding is the only thing that will move us closer to rightly giving thanks for all things.



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