Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving


I tend to get a little confused around Thanksgiving time.
I read post after post about what people are thankful for.
I am told to think about everything I am thankful for and to simply be grateful.


And I think these things are well good. It’s important to be grateful and thankful.


But the more I have thought about it—this over-emphasis on being thankful for what I have has left me a little bit unsettled.


Because I am told to look at poverty, look at people that don’t have enough food to survive, look at people who don’t have clean water, look at people struggling to get by. And once I have seen those things, I am told—“How can you not be thankful?”


I’ll be the first to admit that I have walked through the streets of homelessness and despair and said to myself: “Look at how little they have and how hopeless they are. I sure can’t help but be thankful.”


But something about this hurts my heart.


There is a hurting world around us.


I mean really—how can we watch the news of what is going on in the world around us and not be immediately sent to our knees with hearts screaming out for the Father?


How can we hear story after story of death, disease, despair, darkness, genocide, hatred, divorce, poverty, brokenness, abandonment, and hurt and sit around a table and bow our heads in thanks?


That’s hard for me—really hard for me.


Because something seems so off in the fact that on “Thanksgiving” I can gather around a table with family—people who love me dearly—and experience extreme joy. As if I am suppose to shut up, ignore the hurting world around me, and just be thankful.


Something about this picture just strikes my heart in a weird way and I don’t think I have an answer for it.


But I do know this: Giving thanks causes me to say that God is good, even though the things of this world may not be.


In the middle of the death, disease, despair, darkness, genocide, hatred, divorce, poverty, brokenness, abandonment, and hurt—God is good. And he is here encircling us all with love and grace.


God is good.
HE IS GOOD.
And it’s in that belief that we give thanks--that we have thanksgiving. 


It’s not just something we should say when we are happy.
It’s not something we should just cling to when we are desperately in need of hope..
It’s a living, breathing, moving, second by second mentality.
Breathe in the goodness of God and breathe it right back out into a lost world.


“Thanksgiving” is about so much more than listing off a bunch of things we are thankful for. Thanksgiving is a lot more than just recognizing how ‘good’ we have it.


It’s doing.
And walking.
And living.


What if we stopped listing off all of the things we are thankful for and started talking about how we are changing the world around us because of it?


Thanksgiving moves us out of our comfortability.
It causes us to bring light, and joy, and healing to a broken world.


I don’t have a solution to fix the hurting in the world. I just don’t. We brought it here by our own sinful nature and I don’t know how to ‘fix’ the world.


But I do know that some healing and restoration is found in giving, giving, and more giving.


Thanksgiving is best expressed when I give everything in my heart until I can’t give anymore. Whether it be to the homeless boy down the street or to my best friend whom I love dearly—simply give.


Whenever we trust in the power of Thanksgiving—the act of praising God for His goodness—we should begin to act as if our very lives depended on it.


Giving brings redemption.
It brings restoration.
It brings healing.


Thanksgiving is a continual, moment-by-moment, expression of the goodness of God by how we encounter the world around us—no matter what may come.


Thanksgiving causes us to live, and do, and be.


And as we walk in the light of Thanksgiving—in the goodness of our Maker—we can’t help but feel the love, grace, and embrace of the Father.

And this stirs something in our hearts to embrace the world around us in love.


So this Thanksgiving, as you think about what you’re grateful for, as you eat good food and spend time with loved ones—talk about what that Thanksgiving is really asking you to do.


How is Thanksgiving reclaiming your life?


And then go and be the hands and the feet of Jesus to the world around you.


Love the hurting mother struggling to make ends meet with everything you have.
And love your roommate with reckless abandon.
Love the kid you know that is struggling as his parents are getting divorced.
And love, honor, and cherish your mom and dad.
Love your relative that is sick and dying.
And love your friend that you can’t imagine going through life without. 


Give in your relationships.
Give in your friendships.
Give with time, energy, grace, and forgiveness.


Pursue the world with the love of Christ.


And it’s in the understanding of God’s very nature—the act of praising Him as He shines down His goodness--that we move, and breathe, and live out authentic Thanksgiving.














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