The blog post below comes from Anthony Girges, one of HOPE's Board Members and the leader of HOPE's Los Angeles branch. During this season of Thanksgiving, Anthony reminds us all what the true meaning of giving thanks is and how our day of thanks can turn into a way of life.
“Offer to God TOWDAH, and pay your vows to the Most High.” Psalm 50:14
By far, the best time of the year! Thanksgiving is here, and Christmas just around the corner: family, friends, love, gifts, service, sports and FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! The blessings and perks of the season are so delightful, and there is no doubt in my mind, that you are SO thankful to God for all these blessings in your life.
Question, do you ever wonder, or experience a sense of conviction that our audible thanksgiving is not enough? That just maybe, there has to be more than simply voicing our thanksgiving, or expressing our thanksgiving through social media to our Father in heaven.
”Towdah is the Hebrew word for “thanksgiving,” as expressed by King David in Psalm 50. Towdah means to “express visible thanks or adoration to God by extending the hands to God in reverence, coupled with offering a sacrifice of praise to God through audible confessions of thanks.”
Thus, thanksgiving is an expression of appreciation and gratefulness to God, which is deeply rooted in the heart, expressed outwardly to God through words of praise, actions of praise and a lifestyle of compassion.
Thanksgiving is more than a day; it’s a way of life. As a Christian, Thanksgiving Day should not be merely an occasion that is celebrated once a year, and additionally thanksgiving should be a continuous expression of the worship we offer to God daily, through words and actions.
St. John Chrysostom said, “When you discover the door of your heart you discover the gate of heaven.” Therefore, thanksgiving is worship in your heart towards God. Worship is the focus of your heart towards God, and praise is the outward expression of the focus of your heart.
You might say, “I can’t find God, show me God,” I say, “show me your heart.” For Christ Himself said, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Prayer and worship is the search for God, in confidence hope to experience “The encounter.” The encounter is meeting Him face-to-face, and to encounter The Truth, Himself, you must approach Him in your own truth and vulnerability. Presenting yourself as you are in the present truth, and not as you imagine He wants you to be. It’s not always about approaching Him in your Sunday best, but it’s encountering Him in your Wednesday worst. Remember, thankfulness and praise is the outward expression of the focus of your heart.
The ecstasy of thanksgiving is the compassion you show to others. St. Peter says it best in his first epistle,
“Finally, all you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Lack of compassion and love is what we as a society struggle with, but thanksgiving can heal and fill that void. Mother Theresa sums it up perfectly when speaking of our greatest disease as a society,
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God." Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, and kindness in your smile.”
I pray that thanksgiving goes beyond the day and is deeply rooted in the depth of our hearts. Expressed outwardly to God through words of praise, actions of praise (towdah) and a lifestyle of compassion.