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Thanksgiving Is An S.O.S.




Thanksgiving Is An S.O.S.

David Gentiles

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:14

In January of 1909, the rescue of 1,500 passengers and crew from ships named the Republic and the Florida by the Baltic was the defining moment in wireless rescue history. The White Star liner Republic was rammed in a dense fog by the Italian Florida. Wireless operator Jack Binns of the Republic sent out a “CQD” (a distress signal precursor to the S.O.S. ‘notes added’). The Baltic came to the rescue after hunting for the Republic in the fog for many hours. Those concerned with the maritime industry now realized the importance of equipping ships with wireless.
— Neal McEwen, K5RW, "'SOS,' 'CQD' and the History of Maritime Distress Calls’

At the turn of the 20th Century, wireless distress signals through Morse Code were being experimented with and implemented in rescues all over the world.  This one moment in maritime history was significant in the affirmation of their uses in identifying and addressing emergency calls on the open seas.  In this one instance, the use of and recognition of these signals led to the saving of 1,500 people.  Without this young technology it’s possible their calls for help would never have been heard and the lineage of countless lives and families forever altered.

 After reading a bit about the origin of the now universal call of distress (S.O.S.), I wondered if anyone has every considered the idea of thanksgiving being a distress call of the soul?

 Asaph, in Psalm 50, gives account God’s call to give thanks as a sacrifice in the midst of his distress.  What? I thought thanksgiving was something that happened when you felt good about life, your material blessings, your health, etc. How could giving thanks be a sacrifice? Or, how could a sacrifice possibly be thanksgiving? Honestly, this is a hard one for me to wrap my brain around.

 This past Sunday at church we spent about two or three minutes in our worship service thanking God for his faithfulness in our lives. I knew that when we planned these moments of prayer it might be easy for some to pray together with joy and ease. I also realized that for others, thanking God would be tough. For many, the loss of family members to cancer or tragedy, the waywardness of a child in need, or the addiction of a friend or family member could impede our ability to thank God. Why? … Because those are painful things. How can you thank God in the midst of pain and ache?

I think in that moment Psalm 52:9 paints a beautiful picture of what it means for the family of God to be thankful together in every season of ache: I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.”

 Giving thanks … whether in times of grief or joy is a soul message of the heart to God that affirms the biblical truth that He is over all things and is faithful to those who love him and are called according to his purpose. The warmth of this trusted hymn sings so beautifully:

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
— Hymn: "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"

So no matter where you are today… if you can … try giving thanks.  If you’re rejoicing in a season of great triumph, thank God for it and affirm his faithfulness.  If you’re mourning a season of great ache, thank God for what he is doing in your life in the midst of this.  Joy is not the assurance that pain will never appear.  And pain is never the nail in the coffin that joy will ever return.


God is faithful.  He is our deliverer.

No matter what, offer a sacrifice of thanks… It’s our S.O.S. 

And remember always:


He knows your           name

 He hears your            cry

 He sees your              · · · – – – · · ·