Today is thanksgiving and we’re all taking stock of our lives and thinking of all the things we have to be thankful for. Ya know, table full of food, family, friends… We say thanks for those things and we think that’s what it’s all about.
I have to wonder though… what about those of us who feel like we’ve lost more this year than we’ve gained? What about those who have lost loved ones and still mourn for them? What about the ones who feel like every single plan in the book went wrong this year? What about the kid living under the bridge whose parents were killed in a car crash? What about the old granny whose children pay no attention to her? What about the mom whose heart is breaking because her baby won’t come home? What about the thousands who feel the heavy black cloud of depression sinking in? What about the ones who are pressed so low they want to take their own life?
If thanksgiving is all about being thankful for the blessings in our lives, where does that leave the people who feel that they’ve ended the year with a whole lot less than they started?
Is thanksgiving just for the farmers who have brought in a full harvest? Or is it also for the farmers whose crops have been utterly destroyed and who don’t know where their next meal is coming from?
We thank God when He gives. But what about when He takes?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be given a gift and then asked to give it back. What about all the thankfulness that came because of the gift? Does that go back too? And how are we supposed to be content when God takes our treasures away?
How do we really live and give thanks when it seems like God is asking us to give more back than He is sending our way?
I think back to quiet walks through the orchard up on the hill at sunset as summer died away. I remember the throbbing ache of my heart… How can You ask so much? How can You take so much? Are you really only giving me Yourself? What am I supposed to do now?
I’ve always said that I wanted to live with just Jesus. Believe it or not, I often use to dream about being privileged enough to be sent to jail for my faith one day and taste the experience of literally having only Jesus. I was the girl who was sure I knew He was enough, and had told Him a thousand times that I wanted to experience that.
Funny how my prayers changed to desperate ones when He gave me a tiny taste of it.
Apparently it is easier to pray about just having Jesus than it is to experience.
I felt it again as I slipped away into the dark of the silent parking lot a week ago. My prayer was a mere whisper as I walked… How am I supposed to be content to have nothing but You?
The stars twinkled overhead. I sat and looked at them long. I knew the truth. I knew He was enough. But in all honesty, at that moment it sure didn’t feel like it. I wanted more. I told Him I needed more.
And I have to wonder how we as a generation have gotten to the point where we really think we need more than God. Sure, we don’t think that intellectually. But let Him strip us of everything and we find ourselves murmuring that we don’t have what we need and He is robbing us of something.
Why can I not picture Paul and Silas sitting in jail and telling God they needed more than the chains that cut their wrists and made His presence more palpable? Why have we never heard of the Waldenses complaining that they had been stripped of their homes and comfort as they hid in mountain caves? Why did we not hear Huss howling to the throne room that he had been robbed of the life he deserved as flames licked away at his feet?
It’s preposterous to even think of these forerunners saying such things. But if we’re honest, it’s not so preposterous to think of our generation saying them if we were in their place.
Why are we not content with God? Has He changed?
Or have we?
Maybe we’ve been dazzled by a world of consumerism. Maybe we have been influenced by the masses who haven’t made heaven their home and thus live as though this is the only one they have. Maybe we have lost the perspective of our forefathers.
And maybe that’s why we think thanksgiving is just about celebrating the three F’s— family, friends, and food.
Yeah, so some of us come to thanksgiving with hands full of broken pieces. Some of us come with hands full of gifts that He seems to be asking us to give back. And we wonder what we’re supposed to be thankful for.
Thank God that He’s counted you dear enough to rescue from the pit of bounty and satisfy with His own heart. Thank God that He has given you a chance to taste something of substance— Jesus and Jesus only.
Because really, I wonder if we are no longer content with just God because we don’t even know who God really is anymore. And if we don’t really know who He is, it would make sense that we feel He isn’t enough for us.
Because He never promised that half of His heart would be enough to satisfy ours.
He promised all of Himself.
If you’ve been broken this year… if you come to thanksgiving feeling like you don’t have anything to be thankful for… if you feel like you have been left alone to battle through the dark of life… if you think you’ll end up sitting quietly in the shadows and celebrating thanksgiving with a moan to God to just see the light of one smile…
Maybe you have just been blessed a little deeper. There may be a whole legion of angels watching from heaven because God is in the process of showing you what it really means to be content with just Him.
Because He’s making you a hero. And heaven can’t help smiling.
Maybe He’s trying to teach this whole generation to know all of Himself. And maybe when we we learn, we’ll realize that we don’t need all the things the world has to be thankful.
Maybe we’ll realize that our emptiness was just the tool He used to give us more than we ever could have dreamed before.