In A Word: Thanksgiving

enter-his-gatesHappy Thanksgiving Day.

As my holiday blog offering, let me offer a few thoughts on the word thanksgiving.

The English word thank originally had a connection to a very similar word think. Therefore we should understand giving thanks as the verbal response to a mental exercise. To be thankful means that one begins a type of thinking that leads to thanking.

Although thanksgiving is a noun it implies verbal action. That is why we reverse the word order of the compound to say that we are giving thanks.

As a verbal idea it requires a subject which is the person giving thanks.

This verbal idea also requires two objects for prepositions which must be supplied at least in thought. One object is of the preposition for. Something must be identified or understood as this object. In the sense of prayer, we usually think of this object as the blessings we have received. This can be both a general understanding of the many blessings we have received or the specific identification of these blessings. You know, “name them one by one.”

The other object is of the preposition to. The blessing has to arrive from a blesser. Again, in the sense of prayer this would be the Lord.

The modern usage of thanksgiving or giving thanks is often lacking some or all of these aspects. We always have the idea of the subject. We say, “I am thankful.” We are also fairly apt at supplying the object for the preposition for. “I am thankful for…”

What is often missing is the supplying of the object for the preposition to. I know this to be true because I have heard atheists indicate that they are thankful for things. That begs the question, “Thankful to whom?”

When we lack any of these elements, it is an indication that we have short circuited the idea at the beginning of the process by not thinking.

So I hope your day (and your life) will be characterized by thoughtful reflection that results in prayer to the Lord for your blessings.