Thanksgiving does, indeed, imply joy and gladness of heart, but not in the abundance of earthly things, but in God who is really GOD, the Lord of all, who reigneth in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, who doeth all things well; who is, moreover, the God of our salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord, who forgiveth all our iniquities, who healeth all our diseases, and from whose fatherly hand we receive all things, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, health and sickness, joy and sorrow, life and death, and who causes all things to work for our salvation.
To give thanks means, to be sure, that we point to blessings received, and that we count them one by one, but not so that we exclude from these benefits anything that we received from the hand of our heavenly Father in this valley of death, so that we speak of “many things to be thankful for” while we know not what to do with those experiences that were contrary to our earthly desires; but so that we consider all things, by faith, and in the light of His promise, as gifts of His grace, for the which He is to be praised and adored.
It means that we praise Him and glorify His holy name because of the abundance of His mercy over us, but again, not in the vain imagination that by doing so we add anything to His glory, and oblige Him to us, but in the deep sense that even our thanksgiving and praise is a gift of grace, an unspeakably great privilege which He bestows upon us, and for the which we owe Him thanks.
And thus it implies that we deeply humble ourselves before Him, who is God, the Lord, and acknowledge that we are wholly unworthy of all His benefits.
To acknowledge Him as God alone, and to prostrate ourselves in adoration before His throne,—that is thanksgiving.
All of Him, none of self!
This excerpt was taken from a meditation written by Herman Hoeksema in 1946. Read the full article at the Standard Bearer Archives: http://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/all-him.