Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Leanness of Soul

Many people live with leanness of soul. It is a spiritual condition related to gratitude, and we get a glimpse of it in Psalm 106. The psalm begins by calling the people of God to praise and thanksgiving. The following 12 verses continue by reminding them of God’s great and merciful works. How He showed His power and set them free from slavery in Egypt, parted the Red Sea to get them to safety, and covered their enemies with water. As they remember God’s goodness toward them, we see thanksgiving flowing from grateful hearts as they recognize the Lord and His mighty works. Then, a few verses later, we see a drastic change as they forgot His works and did not seek His counsel.

Forgetful of God’s goodness, they began to lust for the pots of meat they had in Egypt and began to test God in the wilderness. They started demanding meat as if the Lord had failed to give them something they deserved. They desired the food of their slavery more than the bread from heaven. The psalm continues, “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:9, NKJV) The Lord had granted them their fleshly desires, which was meat in the form of quail, but the meat did not satisfy them. Instead, it made them sick. The more they ate, the more empty it left them, for the Lord had sent it with a wasting disease.

Ingratitude works much the same way. When we think we need something more than God has already given us or promised to provide, we will find our longings had deceived us when we get it. This dissatisfaction is because we have been created to feast upon God through His word, remembering all He has done for us. When we forget God and ingratitude sets in, we have grown spiritually sick. At that point, it does not matter how much we have; it will never satisfy us, and the more we get, the more dissatisfied we become. If God and His great mercy cannot fill our hearts with thanksgiving, nothing will.

Gratitude flows freely from a heart full of God, mindful of His wondrous works, and aware of His grace to such unworthy and sinful creatures. The sinner, who hungers and thirsts after righteousness and has been filled by the justifying work of Christ, can find themselves in any harsh situation this life has to offer and still rejoice with full hearts. On the contrary, the person who forgets God’s great works toward them and begins to think they deserve more can be in the most pleasant of all earthly positions and still live with lean souls.

The same gospel that saves us from our wretched condition is the same gospel that will fill our souls with joy for all eternity. We must never forget how great His love is for us that we should be called sons and daughters of God. To live our lives without this truth at the center will bring leanness to our souls that will never be satisfied with anything this world can offer.

This Thanksgiving, if your heart has been forgetful of God’s great love and mercy toward you, or if you find yourself unsatisfied with what the Lord has done for you, it is time to seek His face and remember His goodness. Do not let one more day go by without spending time in His word and calling to Him in prayer. The most beautiful holiday feasts cannot cure the ingratitude toward God that accompanies leanness of soul. However, if you have remembered your God and your heart is full of Him, any lack you experience this holiday will not empty the joy and gratitude that fills your soul. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim. 6:6).

May all our hearts burst forth with gratitude toward our great God this holiday season!

-D. Eaton

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. – Psalm 100

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