What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? Whether you make a gratitude list or write what you’re thankful for in a prayer journal, it’s likely that many items on your list are people, blessings, or attributes of God like His grace and love. But what about other attributes of God; are we thankful for all of who God is—even the things we don’t understand? Ava Pennington, writer and teacher, has written an article for ReviveOurHearts.com titled “Giving Thanks for Every Name of God.” She explains,
“During this Thanksgiving season, I have a confession to make. It’s easier for me to be thankful for some of God’s names and attributes more than others.
It’s effortless for me to rejoice in God’s attributes of love and faithfulness. I savor His forgiveness and provision. It’s easy for me to be thankful He is my Savior and Healer.
However, I don’t delight as easily in some of God’s other characteristics. How can I understand a God whose nature is incomprehensible? Where is the joy in descriptions of God the Father as a Consuming Fire and Jesus as a Man of Sorrows? And I struggle to be thankful that God is a holy and jealous God.”
This is so true; how often do we pray, thanking God for His incomprehensible holiness or his righteous wrath and jealousy? Most people thank God for His blessings, His grace, the joy He imparts, and His everlasting love. But being thankful for God means we are thankful for all of Him and all that He is—even if we don’t fully understand every part of Him. The problem with only praising certain attributes of God is that we start to define God by what we like. Here are 4 attributes of God that Pennington brings to our attention:
1. Be thankful for God’s incomprehensibility.
God’s incomprehensibility reminds us that God is greater than we are and that His ways are higher. We should be in awe of who He is and that our minds cannot fully grasp His infinite nature.
“Isaiah 40:28 tells us no one can fathom God. The world tries to explain Him. When they can’t, they dismiss Him. Even as Christians, we want to understand Him. But God does not owe us any explanations.”
The ESV Study Bible comments,
“Because God can never be fully known, those who seek to know God should be deeply humbled in the process, realizing that they will always have more to learn. The appropriate response to God is a heart of wonder and awe in light of his incomprehensible greatness.”
Remember this verse:
“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)
2. Be thankful for God’s jealousy.
The words jealousy, jealousness, jealously, jealous etc. carry a negative connotation in our culture. We automatically put it in the sin pile because for humans it's hard to understand jealousy apart from sin. But, God displays a sin-free jealousy for us.
“When we choose our own way, pursuing people and things other than Him, He knows we will suffer. God’s jealousy is not the same as human jealousy. He is jealous for our eternal good.”
Crosswalk contributor Skip Heitzig also expresses,
“The jealousy of God is actually a wonderful thing. In the original language, the word means to have zeal over one's property; it means ‘Hands off! This belongs to me.’”
Remember this verse:
“For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14).
3. Be thankful that God is an impartial judge.
Pennington points out,
“When we’re wronged, we demand God’s justice: “Punish them!” But when we are wrong, we appeal to His mercy and compassion.”
Too quickly we forget to forgive others as Christ forgave us at the cross and as He continues to forgive us. For there is nothing that cannot be forgiven at the cross, and once we are forgiven no matter how deep we feel our sin may be we can rest assured that Christ has covered all our sin with His blood.
Crosswalk contributor Jen Wilkin relays,
“When we understand God’s character in all its glory, we see our sin in a new light. We gain perspective on what it means that our sin causes us to “fall short of the glory of God.” Like Isaiah, we respond to a vision of God high and lifted up with confession and repentance.”
Remember this verse:
“For God shows no partiality.” (Romans 2:11)
4. Be thankful that God is a consuming fire.
Our God is holy and any sin is an affront to Him, no matter how small. His consuming fire is just and righteous, but it can also be daunting to us as sinners.
Crosswalk contributor Ann Spangler writes,
“The Lord is a Consuming Fire who will ultimately destroy whatever is opposed to his holiness.”
“This fire, which will consume His enemies, is also a refiner’s fire for you and me. Just as extreme heat burns away the dross in precious metals, God’s consuming fire purifies us. His Holy Spirit works to sanctify us—to set us apart from a sinful world to a holy God.”
Remember this verse:
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
“May every name and attribute of God motivate us to joyful praise and cause us to be thankful. Every name. Every attribute. Because together, they are the glory that is our wonderful, awesome God!”
To read Ava Pennington’s article in its entirety, please visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
A Prayer of thanksgiving for who God is:
Thank you for ALL of who You are! Forgive me for focusing on Your attributes that make me feel most comfortable and for forgetting or avoiding others. I thank You that in my finiteness I can sense Your incomprehensible grandness. I am thankful for Your jealousy that You deem me worthy of Your love and care; thank You for chasing after my heart when I rebel or become apathetic. Thank You that You are an impartial judge, offering the cross to all who believe. Thank You Jesus that my sins are forgiven in You once and for all that Your blood covers me completely. And thank You God that You are a consuming fire that you will not allow any sin in Your presence. You are just and forgiving, seeking to refine all who come to You. You are holy in all of your ways, and I am humbled before You. Thank You for reminding me of who You are this Thanksgiving and always. In Jesus‘ name, Amen.
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 21, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.