Thankfulness Requires Remembering

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We are at my mom’s house. She is going to sell it after living here for 30 years. This is, most likely, our last holiday in the house. As I walked through the rooms, I noticed my grandparents’ old kitchen table in one of the rooms with their old kitchen chairs. I sat in those chairs on trips to Alabama every Thanksgiving as a child.

I pulled out one of the old chairs, sat down, close my eyes and walked through that old house on Pasadena Ave in Muscle Shoals. I could see so many details in that house as I ran my hands over that table. In my minds eye I could remember watching the Iron Bowl with them every year. I could remember every piece of furniture and even how some of them felt to sit on them.

And I was thankful…a bit sad…but thankful.

It is impossible to be thankful without memory.

When the Bible talks about thanksgiving it is often paired with remembrance. There are two main instances that come to mind, one in the Old Testament and one in the New.

The old Testament passage

Deuteronomy 8 gives instructions on entering the land. Over and over again they are told to remember the Lord when God gives them the land. When they remember that God gave them the land and everything in it that they are to praise God rather than become proud and forgetful.

Remember – Deut 8:2
Do not forget – Deut 8:11
You will forget – Deut 8:14
Remember – Deut 8:18
If you ever forget – Deut 8:19

The instruction to remember and not forget it a reminder to praise God. We thank God for all He has given us. To really thank God we have to remember and not forget all God has done for us.

The New Testament passage

In the New Testament at the Last Supper we find something similar. In Luke 22:19 Jesus it says,

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Giving thanks goes hand in hand with remembrance. It is impossible to thank God without using your memory. Every time we tell God thank you, we had to access a memory.

We need to regularly take time to go through our memory and express thankfulness to God. Often we pray and ask God for things and say “And we promise to come back and thank you when you answer this prayer!”

An exercise

Here is a little exercise to do today – write down 20 things you are thankful for (people, places, things, etc) and then consider how God has provided each and everyone and thank Him for it all!

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