Thankfulness in the Midst
A whole day set aside for gratitude? I know, I know ...there’s a lot more to this holiday than that. There’s cooking, feasting, traditions, family and friends that set aside time for gathering. Sometimes, there are games, puzzles, movies, and football. There are myriad ways of celebrating this Autumn holiday, but it is called Thanksgiving for one reason - returning thanks for the blessings we have been abundantly given by the Lover of our souls.
2020 may present a challenge in our heart of hearts to find that truly grateful response. It might be somewhat easy to turn on worship music and get lost in the lyrics of declaring the goodness of God...while we still hold a bit of frustration, or might I say resentment, for the unprecedented situation we find ourselves experiencing in this season.
So, what does it really mean when we read: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you.”? (1 Thess. 5:18)
If I am being genuine, there are plenty of things I am not thankful for. The current political weather we are experiencing and the varied responses and reactions from the body of Christ. The way fear is running rampant and convincing people to do things they would normally not do in the face of a dreaded virus. The way it is too easy to jump on the ‘Cancel Culture’ wagon and have opinions flying about this or that famous person and whether they are worthy or not. Broken friendships due to a difference in opinion.
While I am not thankful for these things, is it possible to be thankful in these things, as the verse above says? Can the place in my heart that is experiencing pain due to the unrest in my world step into honest gratitude? I don’t mean looking beyond all the situations and finding other things to focus my gratitude on... but rather being thankful in the angst? Feels a bit impossible, yes?
I would like to remind you and me that with God all things are possible, so He didn’t give us this directive with no way to accomplish it. Whew! We can be thankful for that!
Let’s remember that none of what we are all going through has come as a surprise to Him. He not only knew it was all coming but has been working ahead of time to prepare the way for our victory in the circumstances. “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord Himself will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail nor abandon you.” (Duet. 31:18) He not only walks with us into our every day, but He is also already in our tomorrow as well. It is in this space I believe we can genuinely return thanks in the steps we are walking through right now, along with all the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that come along.
We get to partner with the Creator of the universe in what HE is accomplishing, despite the desperate scene in front of us, and bring on earth what is in heaven. In the midst of the ugly, there is beauty for He is bringing about His purposes, inviting us to be extensions of His goodness in the mess. What a reason to be grateful, and a way to celebrate with true gratitude!
Happy Thanksgiving, my beautiful family!