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The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

written by

Edwin Shank

posted on

November 24, 2023


Good morning Family Cow tribe!

Something was bothering me. There was a question rolling around in my head. I knew I should dedicate some time to think it through, but... life is busy, so it just kept rolling.

The thought that was niggling me was this; "What exactly is going on in our subconscious if we sometimes find it hard to say thank you, to express our thanks, to tell someone that we appreciate what they have done for us and that they mean a lot to us?"

And I’m not talking about the offhanded "thanks" that we too casually toss over our shoulders. I’m referring to a genuine "Thank you, I appreciate that!" or "I appreciate you!" Why do we find that hard?

I mean, giving a thank-you or expressing an appreciation, even a genuine one, doesn’t cost us anything.

Or does it? Is there some sort of subliminal price to pay, to tell someone we appreciate them? It seems to me that giving a heartfelt, sincere thank-you apparently does require us to sacrifice something, for we wouldn’t hesitate to give that which cost us nothing.

Hmm... I need to think on this more. There just may be a deep truth here that’s good for all of us to understand. 

I had in mind to flesh out this "cost of thankfulness" inspiration as a Thanksgiving Day email. But I couldn’t figure out an acceptable title. My family will tell you that I can obsess about finding the perfect title, but this one eluded me.  

Imagine the thrill that shot through me when last Sunday, Bro Wilmer Martin announced that his sermon text was Psalm 116:17 "I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD."

I knew immediately what my title needed to be. "The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving." There! So, it’s not just my philosophical ponderings... it’s even expressed in scripture. Giving thanks does require a sacrifice! It does cost us something... there is a price.

What actually is This Sacrifice of Thanksgiving? 

An honest look at why we may struggle to say thank you.

Maybe we feel entitled: We think we deserved this favor. They owed us one... sure, they gave something but it was their duty... why should we say thank-you? To acknowledge the gift by a thank-you means we know it was more than was owed us.

Maybe we’re unthoughtful: We really didn’t even notice what they’d done. We were too busy thinking about our day, our own plans, our own problems. We’re not really ungrateful... we’re just lost in our own world. We cannot say thank-you because it literally never crossed our minds.

Maybe we minimize: It’s no big deal. It was such a small thing. Especially for them... they have so much... they will not even miss this. It’s easy for them to give. To express a real appreciation would be making a big deal out of it and that would be awkward.

Or maybe we actually are ungrateful: It’s not what I wanted. I wish it was the bigger one. It’s not the color I like. It’s not the brand I wanted. It is not my taste. It’s old. It’s used. It’s outdated. So, I cannot say I’m thankful because that wouldn’t be true.

Maybe we don’t like the giver: We would say thank-you if it was someone we liked... but to this person? We don’t want them to think that we appreciate them. It might encourage them to try to be friends! They might latch on to us! They might even want a relationship!

Maybe it makes us feel indebted: And we do not like to be indebted to anyone. We want to be a self-made person! Independent. Self-sufficient. We cannot stand to be indebted or beholden to anyone. If we make a big deal over this then it may be acknowledging our indebtedness.

Maybe it makes us feel small: We don’t want to feel needy. To receive makes us feel like a nobody. And we want to be a somebody! So, if we avoid saying thank-you it helps us feel bigger, stronger, more secure... We want to pretend we are too well off to be impressed with something small like this favor they have done.
Maybe we have a hard time believing and accepting love: Maybe it makes us feel like someone’s charity project. If we express and show our appreciation then we fear that they will for sure count us as a star in their crown. And that feels like a put down!

I’m sure this is not 100% of the reasons why we sometimes avoid giving a sincere thank-you. But I believe it captures the essence.

So, what is "The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving?" Did you notice it? What is the price, what is the cost of expressing gratitude in spite of natural inhibitions that come up in our face?

In each of these cases, it is ‘self’ that must be sacrificed. Yes, saying a clear thank-you is hard on our selfishness. Receiving from others and then verbally and sincerely acknowledging that we have received, is hard on our pride. 

Think about this... see if this is true from your observations of life.

  • Humility and self-sacrifice are core virtues of happy, thankful, others-focused souls.
  • Pride and self-preservation are core vices of sad, ungrateful, inward-focused ones.

Brother Wilmer’s Sunday sermon was divided into three sub headings: When we have made the proper sacrifice of our own will and self-centeredness, then and only then can we express the three actions of (1) Thanks-willing, (2) Thanks-giving and (3) Thanks-living.

If never before, this year and the rest of our lives let’s each resolve to lay aside self and freely accept the gift of what God has done for us. 

"For God so LOVED the world,
that he GAVE his only begotten Son,
that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should NOT perish,
– Jesus Christ - circa AD 30 - John 3:16


Your farmers
~ Edwin and Dawn Shank and Family



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