6 Bible Stories About Real Thanksgiving


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biblical thanksgiving

With Black Friday looming, I’ve been drawn into so many sale ads that I am almost more eager for the post-Thanksgiving shopping than Thanksgiving itself. Our culture fuels this fire by inundating us with ads. Who’s got the best prices on what? Oooooh and with a sale like that, who doesn’t need ALL the clothes and a new TV?

Thanksgiving itself almost gets lost in our “more, more, more” culture.

And when we do think of Thanksgiving it’s just an American holiday with historical origins and gluttonous implications. But honestly, if we allowed it to, Thanksgiving could put a spotlight on a wonderful and crucial part of Christian life. With all of the festivities and the time off from school, it’s a great time for adults and children alike to consider what God meant to communicate to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV).

This week, consider slowing the holiday rush down to consider what biblical thanksgiving really looks like for you and your family. As you do so, here are a few stories to dwell on for yourself and that you can tell to help your children visualize and understand what giving thanks to God can look like.

Mary’s Gratitude for Jesus – Luke 1

There’s no doubt that Mary knew the weight of her circumstances as a pregnant virgin. And yet, as she realizes that she is pregnant with the son of God, she rejoices in the blessing of being His chosen vessel. Her choice to view her circumstances as a blessing when the world probably would have told her otherwise is an example to Christians throughout history. Sometimes the blessings God gives us aren’t easy to handle, but we should be thankful nonetheless.

A Grateful Sinner – Luke 7:36-50

This passage is the story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and an entire bottle of expensive ointment. It’s filled with great talking points about not only our unworthiness of our greatest blessing — salvation — but also how lavishly Jesus deserves our thanks.

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A Leper Thankful for Healing – Luke 17:12-19

God takes notice of our praise and thanks. When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one returned to thank Him. Although all lepers were physically healed, Jesus pronounced this leper further healed by His faith, suggesting that our gratitude impacts our soul-level healing and closeness to God (a notion supported by how many times we are commanded to give thanks or given examples of it in the Bible). This is a great story to teach your children the importance of expressing gratitude, not just feeling it.

Jehoshaphat Gives Thanks Under Pressure – 2 Chronicles 20

Jehosaphat’s is an example of giving thanks for God’s faithfulness, even when you’re facing impossible odds, and even before you see God show up. This story demonstrates how our worship and praise before our prayers are fully answered are an act of faith in gratitude. While you may want to spare your kids the gorier details, this is also a very exciting story for kids (especially boys).

Hannah Gives Thanks for Samuel – 1 Samuel 1

When we wait a long time for a blessing or answer to prayer, it’s easy to feel thankful, but it’s also easy to cling too tightly to our blessing. Hannah, however, showed us that true, deep gratitude always dedicates the credit to God. When her prayers for a child are finally answered, she is faithful in dedicating her son, Samuel, to God. While we may not always have to give our blessings away, we should be ready to do with them whatever God asks of us, no matter how long we’ve waited.

Daniel Gives Thanks, Despite the Cost – Daniel 6

While it isn’t very common for Americans to have their lives threatened because of their faith, Daniel gives us an extreme example of the power of our faithfulness and gratitude to God. Despite knowing that the Satraps were trying to ensnare him, he chose to give thanks to God. Ultimately, his choice to worship and thank God despite the cost became the incredible testimony and Bible story we commonly refer to as “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.”

Beyond these stories thanksgiving is a major theme throughout the Bible. From the Psalms to Jesus’ regular habit of giving thanks to God, the Bible is a gold mine for making this secular holiday about worshipping God!

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