Celebrate with Gratitude

Yael Eckstein  |  November 23, 2022

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. —Nehemiah 8:12

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a renowned Jewish theologian, once said, “It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.” Please enjoy these devotions focused on gratitude during this season when families gather to give thanks.

Have you ever rewarded yourself for achieving a goal? I recently ran into a friend of mine. She had just bought a brand-new SUV. When I commented on how nice it looked, she told me that she had just received her first big commission after working for years to get her real estate license and break into the business.

Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding ourselves and enjoying the fruits of our labors. We all do that. But in the Bible, we see an additional component to celebrating our blessings that we might have overlooked.

To put it simply, in the Bible, celebrations of God’s salvation were also usually marked by giving gifts to the needy and using one’s gratitude as a reason to give to others and to include them in the celebration.

Celebrate with Gratitude

We see this in the Book of Nehemiah. We read, “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”

After Ezra the Scribe had taught God’s Word to crowds in public, the people declared a holiday marking their spiritual achievements. And sure enough, we read that as part of the celebration they sent “portions of food” to the needy.

Similarly, in the Book of Esther, as part of the celebration of God’s rescue of the Jewish people from the hands of the evil Haman, the Jews of Persia sent “presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor” (Esther 9:22). It is a tradition we still follow today during the celebration of Purim.

In both of these examples, helping the needy and including them in the celebration were central to how they expressed gratitude to God. Indeed, what more appropriate reaction to God’s abundant kindnesses could there be than to share the bounty of His goodness with others who have less than we do?

As we learn from the Books of Nehemiah and Esther, when we celebrate with gratitude, and spread happiness and good tidings with others, we are engaged in the truest form of giving thanks to and worship of our God.

Your Turn:

Give thanks to God by helping those who are in need. Sow into the work of The Fellowship today.

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