Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for Thanksgiving

For some people, this season is one of the greatest times of year.  For others, it’s one of the most difficult.  I find myself, like many, falling somewhere in between.  I have so much to be thankful for, and yet being thankful for what I do have doesn’t diminish those things that make the holiday so difficult.  So as the big day approaches, whether we’re sitting at a table with family over a bird baked/fried/smoked to perfection, on the road wishing we were home with our families, in the desert thankful simply to be alive, or walking into a diner because we have no family to spend the day with, we all can be thankful for the same thing.
Scripture tells us to give thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20) in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Not an easy task if your the average human being in the middle of what are some very difficult times.  It’s difficult to be thankful when you’re out of work and have a family that needs to be fed.  It’s difficult to give thanks when a loved one is in the hospital or has recently passed away.  It’s difficult to give thanks when those you love aren’t loving toward you.  Still, even in the midst of these very real, very painful worldly circumstances, we’re called not to worry because worrying doesn’t add a single moment to our life, and to trust in God because he knows what we need and that it’s his pleasure to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:22-32).  If we delight in him, he’ll give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), which, if we’re delighting in him, will be HIM.  He will give us what we need, and all we really need, is Jesus (Hebrews 13:5-8).
Having said that, it’s practically impossible to simply quit worrying.  We have to replace that worry, that fear, with something we can put our trust in.  Whatever we put our trust in must squash that worry like a bug and do so continually, without fail, if we want to really trust in it.  The only one who can do that is Jesus.  We place our trust in him because regardless of our circumstances, emotions, and trials, he’s been there, overcame them and still lived without sin (Hebrews 4:15-16).  He’s a rock!  Not only that, but even if our circumstances bring us to our knees, even to the point of death, we can trust Jesus because he has overcome death (2 Corinthians 1:9).  Who else can we trust if no one else knows how we’re feeling, what we’re up against?  We can confidently draw near to Christ and find mercy and grace in our times of need, like this holiday season.  HE is our strength when we’re weak, struggling and don’t know how we’re going to get through Thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Personally, I’m not one who is content simply getting through the holidays.  I want to be able to enjoy them, to rejoice in them, to laugh and sing carols and feast and smile and have every second of it be genuine.  I want to find things to be thankful for and genuinely be thankful for them!  I don’t expect perfection, but I would like to be able to look at my struggles, my pain, and accept them for what they are and still have the ability to set them aside and genuinely rejoice in my circumstances (Philippians 4:4).  
Even if my circumstances are trying my faith, I can still be thankful.  My gratitude is in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for me, the same sacrifice he made for you.  In being grateful for that sacrifice, that love God has shown me, he reveals the many other blessings in my life that I couldn’t see before I gave thanks for his sacrifice.  Regardless of where you spend this Thanksgiving holiday and who you spend it with, you can still be thankful for what Christ has done for you.  In this thanksgiving I have for Christ, it opens my eyes to the many other blessings he's put in my life and opens my heart to embracing them.
It all comes back to Christ and in him we find all we need (John 6:35).

Happy Thanksgiving.