prodigal son

Can God be Thankful?

Here we are, less than two weeks from Thanksgiving. I’ve been watching some Facebook friends counting down the days through this month with specific things for which they are thankful. Many people, no matter what their faith, are probably thinking the same way.

Then, earlier this week, this thought hit me. What is God thankful for?

My mind quickly began sorting through the many Bible passages stored away there over my 50+ years of following Christ. I could think of many people who were thankful in scripture. Jesus told his followers to be thankful. The apostolic writers reminded us to be thankful. Jesus, himself, offered thanks to the Father several times.

I couldn’t find any reference in the entire Bible to God the Father being thankful!

Since that initial thought, I’ve searched through various internet posts on the subject. Almost all agree God can be thankful, but they infer that through philosophic or theological arguments rather than the Bible. I can follow their trains of thought, and almost agree with their conclusions.

Here’s one of my own. By our human definition of thankful, we cannot prove that the sovereign, all powerful God has anyone to whom he can offer thanks. He is the ultimate giver, not receiver.

However, He can be pleased and acknowledge when something good is done in His name. Creation is an example, where He consciously and verbally expressed approval over His own work by saying, “. . . it was good.”

He can be pleased and acknowledge when His people do the right thing, as when He declared to Moses, “I am pleased with you.”

I tend to think His ultimate pleasure comes as described by Jesus in Luke 15:8-10. “. . . suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Going along with this, in another of Jesus’ parables, we see a picture of a young man who takes his share of the family wealth, leaves home, and loses everything to bad choices. Then this prodigal son repents, and returns home. His father welcomes him back without harsh words or actions, and shows his pleasure at the son’s return by celebrating. Given as a picture of a sinner returning to his God, it is also a picture of his heavenly Father’s pleasure that he has returned.

As we celebrate our own Thanksgiving holiday in two weeks, we will thank God for some of the specific blessings He has given us over this year. We’ll say, “thank you!”

I sincerely hope that He, in turn, will be pleased with us: for coming to, or back to, Him, and for helping others to do the same.