Have you recovered from overindulging in turkey and sweet potatoes? Thanksgiving is truly the best US export ever, not merely because of the food bonanza, but because it calibrates our perspective and helps us count our blessings.
In Europe the art of giving thanks is mainly centered around Christmas or New Year. The Southern part of Europe even celebrate El día de los Reyes on January 6th, remembering how wise men still seek him.
Thankfulness looks like something
This weekend our church has celebrated our volunteers. We are so grateful for the many volunteers who set aside time weekly, if not daily, to serve people and love their neighbors.
Last Friday the church staff removed all the chairs in the sanctuary before setting the table for 650 guests. We cooked, cleaned, decorated and entertained – for 16 hours straight!
Halfway through the night, we put on a 45 minutes show making complete fools of ourselves, which always comes ridiculously easy… We had a lot of fun doing it! The audience appreciated the efforts, laughing with us more than at us, which is always nice.
There’s something truly wonderful about sharing a good laughter. Big, liberating belly laughs breaking through, making their way through the sanctuary like a tidal wave. Those are the holiest of moments. I’m sure the Father was laughing with us.
Then we moved onto the Thanksgiving service on Sunday, which is our community’s way of giving God the glory for what he has done. All testimonies are recent, enabling us to focus on what God’s doing. Here. Now. Among us.
A couple shared how they had celebrated his 5 years’ anniversary of beating cancer by inviting friends over to an improvised party 2 hours later. Because friends celebrate God’s faithfulness.
A man told us of years on the road before drifting straight into the arms of the Father. We all cheered! Because family celebrates a homecoming.
Another couple shared about the loss of their beautiful baby girl, which subsequently almost cost them their marriage. Of the different expressions of grief clashing and creating an almost irreparable rift between them. Of the one sentence that carried them through it all: This was never meant to be. And finally, of their firm decision to once again become happy. We all cried. Then we celebrated a young life, wonderfully lived from start to finish, and a family brave enough to love through loss. Because the Kingdom celebrates lives lived fully.
As we drove home, I was lost in my own thoughts. I was so immensely thankful for the fellowship and our Kingdom family. But I was also challenged.
What am I thankful for?
I am more than ready to give thanks for all that God has done in our family. I gladly tell about the miracles that we have seen happen and for God’s faithful provision over the years.
But what about what we haven’t seen? Am I still willing to give thanks for the fulfillment I have yet to see?
I’m not talking about name it and claim it-practice; or pretending that I have something that I don’t. But am I willing to praise God for fulfilling his promises even though I have still not seen them come to pass?
We love to talk about the Hebrews 11 heroes of faith, but truth is that most of them died without receiving the fullness of what was promised them. They still trusted him to fulfill his promise.
What if the fulfilled promised will look differently than what I expect it to be? Will I still recognize God’s hand at work, giving thanks for his faithfulness to me?
Or do I only welcome his intervention when he comes on my terms?
I choose to be thankful. Even when I don’t know. Even when I don’t see. I still choose to be thankful. Because he is who he says he is.