It's Thanksgiving Eve and I am enjoying a lazy morning with a delicious cup of dark roast mixed with peppermint mocha creamer. The rain woke me up last night, among other things. Things bearing heavy on my mind.
I have much to be thankful for: home, family, job security, health, provisions for daily needs... So many recent events and situations have helped reshape my perspective as to what's really important and what to place value on. Certainly I've learned that everything on this earth is temporary. It's all just "stuff" and quite frankly, we could all learn to live with a lot less "stuff."
Even so, as preparations are being made for turkey dinners, I am plagued with the knowledge of individuals who will spend tomorrow alone. It seems to me that on a day meant to "give thanks" being in solitude must strip away any feelings of gratitude.
The bible talks of giving thanks...
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. I Chronicles 16:34 (repeated multiple times in scripture)
Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” I Chronicles 16:35
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. I Chronicles 29:13
I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:17
(For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.”) A psalm of David. I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 (David's son had just died!)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind... Psalm 107:8 & 15 & 31
I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. Psalm 118:21
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? I Corinthians 10:16
...as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:11 (I saw this lived out as people prayed for our adoption and saw God answer those prayers. MANY gave thanks on our behalf because of our little boy.)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18
There are nearly 50 verses that talk of giving thanks, but in most instances the person giving thanks was purely and utterly to thank God for who He is. Not what He had done. Consider David in Psalm 9, giving thanks to the Lord, being glad and rejoicing, singing praise to his name...even in the midst of his grief over his son. Could I sing praise to God and rejoice in the midst of such sorrow?!
The act of giving thanks in scripture wasn't dependent on circumstances. Surely, we are to give thanks for that which we've received. To say "thank you" and show gratitude should be a natural response for blessings or answered prayers. But what about the act of giving thanks to God, no matter what you're facing, whatever is going on around you, even in the quietness of your solitude, when no one else is looking and your soul is grieved within you. Are you thankful then?
When you haven't received the answer to your prayer. When you've not been granted the miracle you've been hoping for. When you haven't been given the blessing you're seeking. When God seems silent. When you feel alone. Can you thank Him for who He is?
See what Psalms 119 says:
"Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees." (vs. 116-117)
"Let me live that I may praise You, and may Your laws sustain me." (vs. 175)
Sustain me and I will live...live to praise Him. What does that mean?
Sustain - to endure, bear the weight, to support, to keep a person, mind or spirit from giving way.
Today I hope you can find a reason to be thankful. If you're ready to give up or give in, let Him sustain you. Let Him uphold you. Let Him deliver you. May you live to praise Him as He bears the weight of what you carry; to keep you and your spirit from giving way through whatever circumstance you face. And all the while, give thanks with a grateful heart - not because of what you lack, but because He never does. Because He always is. Because of Who He is. Give thanks.