Last weekend my wife and I attended a very fancy wedding, probably the most extravagant event we’ve ever attended in our lives. The setting was elegant, the food was absolutely delectable, tens of thousands of white roses lined every walkway, violinists greeted our every turn, 6 separate bands serenaded the bride and groom and guests, and the non-stop dancing was effusive and ebullient….simply heartfelt joy on overload. It was spectacular.
In the middle of this whole affair, a peculiar thing happened that struck me. Others even commented on it. After the wedding ceremony and the bride and groom walked down the aisle to thunderous applause, the father and mother of the bride then followed them down the aisle. Amazingly they received an even greater ovation. It was noticeable and palpable.
Sure, the crowd of 500 was happy for the lovely couple, but they also spontaneously recognized that the SOURCE of all this extravagance was in one place…..and no one could stop clapping. They just HAD to thank them, to appreciate them and the applause just naturally erupted.
Why? Because of a natural outworking of human nature. I just happened to read a quote last week from C.S. Lewis in his Reflections on the Psalms,
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”
In other words, we couldn’t help ourselves but to express our thankfulness because that completed our own enjoyment. That applause gave us BOTH joy!
How does this relate to Thanksgiving and why we find expressing it so important. Because if we don’t, we feel incomplete.
So, thanking and praising and honoring is not an obligation but an opportunity. When we sit around our Thanksgiving Room tables and say what we’re thankful for, we are performing an integral part of who we are.
And why do we not only thank our friends and family but more importantly, the God who made us, who sustains us, who gives us grace at every moment.
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17: 11-19
So only one in this story found his joy, and nine didn’t. The one honored Jesus and himself, and the nine did neither. In fact, the nine actually dishonored Jesus by not thanking Him.
So, expressing our thankfulness is not our duty to perform, but our chance to express. And find joy.
“It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with.
The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses [Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.”
In response to whatever we regard as supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value…..is a “spontaneous overflow into praise”.
So, the question arises: Is God what we consider to be Supremely Valuable? And that we care most about?
If so, express it. Find Him and you’ll find your joy. He’s our SOURCE.
Ron and Sue