I love Thanksgiving. It’s always been my favorite holiday because it opens the door to the Christmas season. We make a turkey (even if we’re alone) and we put up our tree. When the kids were little we started the party the night before baking and decorating Christmas cookies. We’d be up until the wee hours of the morning, get a little bit of sleep, and then get up and put the turkey in the oven. Those were the days! Of course, we were a lot younger then.
Thanksgiving changed for my husband and me in 1984, and has been a very poignant time since then. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still my favorite holiday, but it now gives us somber pause, reminding us of Jesus’ redemptive work in all things. Each year we are reminded of the baby we lost on Thanksgiving in 1984, and then of the baby we brought home on Thanksgiving in1989.
I’m certain that this year will be no different. And as we suffer many griefs throughout the year (and who doesn’t) God’s redemptive work in the past gives us hope and we can be thankful that He knows the deepest parts of our hearts in each matter.
Leviticus 23:33-43 (the Feast of Booths) reminds us that Thanksgiving was God’s idea. And as I was studying these Scriptures in order to teach about Thanksgiving this week, I saw something in my commentary (on Psalm 118) that never dawned on me before and I want to share that with you:
This Psalm praises the Lord for His unending love for His people. It may have been the last words sung by Jesus and His disciples before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was arrested and led to His death (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26). It will also be sung before Christ’s return to defeat the forces of evil and to rule the world at the end of history (compare Psalm 118:26 with Matt. 23:39). When reading this psalm, consider what might have been in Christ’s mind when He sang it for the last time.
—Fire Bible Commentary
If the commentator’s supposition is accurate that would mean that Jesus was giving thanks for God’s greatness and mercy before He gave His life for our freedom. That’s awesome.
I wonder this morning (I wish I had time to look in my older commentaries for it!) if the Pilgrims had set out to celebrate a “Feast of Booths” on that first Thanksgiving, giving thanks not only for the food the Lord had provided, but for His extravagance in Jesus.
This Thanksgiving, I pray that we’ll all sit down to our delicious turkey dinners and be thankful for God’s redemptive work in our lives. He gives us a freedom that is not controlled by government or political leaders, and in that there is a peace that passeth all understanding.
© 2017, Ta`Mara Hanscom