Thanksgiving - we are to be filled with it. And I know this. I know that Christians are constantly told to be thankful, and aren't we as children taught to always thank? And aren't we taught to thank after what has been done, and never expected to thank when told "no"? And is this really the right way or is it the world's view? Thankfulness when getting what we want, and anger when we don't? And we think we're entitled, and didn't Adam and Eve do the same?
I look to scripture for this, for a picture of what it's like to give thanks. And I drop my eyes and my heart grows weary. We've been taught the wrong way all along.
To give thanks - what does it mean? I read the words of Ann Voskamp and I try to grasp it. That we are entitled to nothing and that all is grace. And that when all is grace, we can give thanks for everything. And we must look at the world through his lenses - and we must be in awe and then thanks begins to form. But it takes looking. It takes acknowledging.
I start with the first people, in the beginning of Genesis. And I begin to see a trend through the entirety of scripture. In the beginning why did Eve sin? Instead of a heart full of thanksgiving for all of God's grace around her in the garden, her heart turned cold with thanklessness. She heard the whisper of the serpent, she heard him ask why God was with-holding something that belonged to her. Instead of Grace, rights consumed her.
I know that I would have fallen prey just like Eve. When I don't think I have enough, when I feel others are taking advantage of me or my time, when I don't see God as enough. That's when thanklessness creeps into my heart an inch at a time. And I didn't even know it, and now it claims my heart and squeezes out the light. And there's no release from this dark outlook on life and God unless I give thanks. And I don't want to give thanks. It seems meaningless.
What does Romans say, and how much of myself can I see...
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools,
and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
And I read it slow and I read it again. And won't you really read it with your heart with me? I can put my name in for "they". And the Israelites share this in common with me. It's not that we don't see God. For even without his word, we see him at work in all of creation. And I refuse to honor him - I don't credit to him for everything around me. As though their are accidents. And not seeing him as the one who gives all these amazing gifts, I refuse to give thanks. My thanksgiving comes with our nation and at our feast we go around the table saying we are thankful for....I usually say my family. And is it that I struggle to come up with other things because I don't see other things as grace? And my thanks feels empty because it's not a part of the way I live and so it is not a part of my heart.
Throughout scripture, I see people suffer trials, and then come through with God at their side. And they have learned something more, or so they hope. And we all mistakes in this race, and we detest the hard hills when we feel we are running at too high altitudes and we can't breath for all the pain. But the truth is, we are getting stronger. We are seeing God in all his provision, and it helps us to give thanks as we feel a release from the struggle. And this thanksgiving is this fresh air and we feel alive. And I wonder if we gave thanks even during the climb, if our lungs would be full of God. And perhaps the run wouldn't be as hard. And we could actually finish well.
And Jesus shows me how to give thanks. And he shows me when. It's not after things have been resolved. Sometimes God wants us to give thanks, and then the resolve comes after.
So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
"I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me."
When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."
The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
Jesus gave thanks before Lazarus came forth. And he gave thanks before he broke the bread and fed the thousands. And I only thank after? And perhaps it needs to be a thanks for God giving what's best, instead of thankfulness for answers we like. And can we teach this to our children? Teach them to live in a state of thankfulness for all things. For the vegetables on their plates, and the "no's" of life? Because a "no" simply means a yes to something better.
We can only live the way we were created to when we start saying "no" to thanklessness, and when we choose to say no to the serpents lie. When we thank God for everything around us, that is when we glorify him because that's when we see him for who he is - James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
And isn't this truly surrender? Excepting everything as a gift and letting go and keeping our eyes on God, and giving thanks?