All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause Thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15
I love Thanksgiving. I love the weather, the smells, the parade on tv, the time spent with family and friends, and of course…the food. I think what I love most about Thanksgiving is that it’s not about presents or candy or any certain event. It’s about gathering with people I love and being thankful (and food, let’s not forget). I’m especially excited this year because we haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving with our extended families for 12 years. It’s going to be great…and delicious.
But what is thanksgiving, truly? And for what should I give thanks? I often find myself demanding that my kids be thankful for the food I provide…because some kids don’t have any food. Or demanding that they be thankful for the closet full of clothes…because some kids only have one outfit to wear. Is this thanksgiving? Lately, I’ve been convicted that this isn’t thanksgiving at all. First of all, because thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart that can be kindled and stoked, but not commanded. And second, because my thanksgiving should never be a result of comparison. Do I somehow have more to be thankful for than someone else? We’re told in Galatians 6 not to compare ourselves with others. And we’re taught in the key verse from 2 Corinthians that ultimately what we have to be thankful for is God’s grace.
Every human being has one thing in common if nothing else: We are sinners undeserving of a perfect eternity in heaven. I am a sinner and so are you. By God’s infinite grace and mercy, I’ve been given the gift eternal life. I have been saved from death. And if you have breath in your lungs, so have you. Jesus died, once for all. The redeeming gift is available to all, regardless of your material blessing. Regardless of your past or present choices. Regardless of any circumstance, you think would disqualify you. You have been saved. You just have to accept the gift.
What if today your greatest physical need was met? What if someone provided you with a new car because yours is unreliable? What if someone offered the cure for a disease you or a loved one is suffering from? What if someone provided you with the exact amount of money you need to pay a bill you thought would go unpaid? What if someone offered you the perfect job because they heard you lost yours? What if someone offered to take care of your kids for a few days to give you some much-needed rest? Imagine how thankful you would be! Imagine how gratitude would overflow from you!
My friends, this has been done! Only not in the immediate physical sense. Your greatest eternal spiritual need has been met. Your deepest desire provided for in Jesus Christ. Only it’s even better…because this need will never arise again. A new car will eventually be old. The money will run out. Exhaustion will return. But you will never, ever lose the gift of God’s saving grace. If that doesn’t stir up some Thanksgiving this November, I’m not sure what will.
So I’m challenging myself to live like I believe this truth. To live in thanksgiving for my deepest need being met, through no merit of my own. Overflowing to the glory of God.