Thanksgiving can get harder as an adult at times. Resources can be stretched to their max, and cause frustration. I’ve been wrestling with this issue over the past few days. I’ve been working so hard to force myself into a thankful spirit despite worries of time and finances. It’s been hard at points. I think it is a common struggle. What do we do with being thankful when it seems most of the things we can seem to be thankful for is not having enough? I exaggerate this point to an extent, but that feeling is very real in our world today. We remember that even at our poorest we are wealthier than the majority of people in the world by comparison, yet the fear remains. What is a guy on thanksgiving to do?
What if I told you the feeding of the five thousand story was rooted in thanksgiving? What if I told you that the very lesson to it was about be thankful? Allow me to elaborate. Jesus has a large crowd of people coming to him. The men alone number at five thousand. They have five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. Jesus very calmly grabs the food, gives thanks, and has it distributed amongst the people. It becomes enough to feed thousands of people, and still have left overs. In fact, it took twelve baskets to gather up the leftovers as opposed to the one basket of food they had to start with.
It seems like a bit of a random story in a way. It’s a popular story, but people tend not to dwell too much on its meaning. It gets a little stranger though. A few verses later John write about the events the following day. He makes this rather random statement when compared to the incredible miracle that happened the day before. “Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.” (John 6:23).
That’s a really strange statement. You could almost breeze right past it because it is so obscure. John does not focus on the numbers. He does not really even linger much on the miracle itself. One of the biggest parts to that event that stuck out to john was listening to Jesus give thanks for the food. This tells me a few things about John.
For starters he was intrigued by Jesus giving thanks for five loaves and two fish to feed thousands of people. That had to have sounded weird to the disciples. They were all in the know. They knew that there was no way they had enough to provide food for all of these people. However, here is Jesus giving thanks anyway. Why would you be thankful for something that is not enough? Why would Jesus be thankful for something that couldn’t even begin to put a dent in the problem? We look back at this story and say “Well it was Jesus so he never needed to be concerned”. Aren’t we supposed to be like Christ though? Jesus lived a life of thanksgiving.
John was struck by that moment of begin thankful. I think it is because John saw the bigger miracle in the midst of the event. The feeding of the five thousand was rooted in thanksgiving. Jesus didn’t even say “Thank you for what you are about to do in magically making this food multiply.” All he said was thank you for providing.
You see. You and I tend to miss the point of a thankful heart. We assume we are supposed to thank God when the provision is exactly meeting our needs. It is even easier sometimes to thank God when we are at our worst. Sometimes losing most of everything highlights the things we do have and can be thankful for those because they mean more. What about that middle of the road moment though. Those moments where your mind wanders and imagination takes control in assuming you are on the brink of disaster?
I’m not saying that being thankful for small provision will suddenly make it that much larger. That would also be missing the point. What I am saying is that all provision in any form should be received with gratitude and thanksgiving. You and I are provided for, and we may not always understand how it is going to stretch out to meet every need, but sometimes we just need to step back, and remember that everything we do have is from God, and he is always worthy of the praise and gratitude.