Thanksgiving Is For The Broken Too
Thanksgiving is for gratitude. Yet, sometimes gratitude feels as far away as the mountains in the distance. You can see them, but you wouldn’t say you’re there.
At times Thanksgiving is projected as the holiday for those who are happy. It is for the celebrating and those who have lists of blessings that flow out of their mouth. I have experienced those days near the end of November with memories of family, food, friends, and naming good gifts for which we’re thankful. It’s often been a joyful holiday.
Thanksgiving isn’t always that way. Our lives are not always easy. Grief and loss may feel like close companions. Financial or physical instability wearingly brings daily concern. Life transition may have you in a season where mourning and stepping into new things alternate regularly. These years other emotions are much more instinctual than gratitude.
Gratitude isn't always an isolated feeling.
Yet, thankfully, gratitude isn’t always an isolated feeling. It doesn’t need to be. It can be mingled with other emotions. And gratitude often isn’t a natural emotion at all, but rather a choice of faith as we remember the message of Jesus in the midst of our circumstances. In some seasons, you could not possibly imagine singing and teaching. Dancing Miriam-style with the tambourine? That’s the last thing I’ve thought about in desperate, hard times.
Yet, Paul commands it back to back in Colossians, not because it’s easy, but because it’s part of the Christian life response.
Thankfulness is our response to the word of Christ.
Paul points us to the word of Christ—the message of Christ found in our Scripture—and flanks it with commands to be thankful. By doing this, he’s reminding us that we have a different lens in which to see our lives. The gospel is the message of God’s great unstopping love for us that resulted in Jesus living, dying and rising again, so that we could have life with God now and forever. This life and these circumstances are not all that there is. You have the promise that Jesus is with you as you walk your difficult path. You can know that your suffering is producing an eternal weight of glory that will far outweigh the pain you may feel now. And you have the promise of an eternity with him in which there will be no more pain or tears or loss or death. Let that dwell in you, Paul says. Let it sink deeply into you to stay. You can give thanks! And from that knowledge, you can minister to others, sing, and do it all with thankfulness. Everything you do, do it for the Savior, giving thanks. Thankfulness is our response to the word of Christ. All these reasons to thank God do not negate the fact that your season may be difficult, but they are the lens in which we see and in which we can give thanks to a God of steadfast love.
So as you gather with friends and family today, perhaps giving thanks feels easy or perhaps it doesn’t, but remember the good that God has done. Remember the message of Jesus. Remember who he is, and his great love for you that will last forever. And tell those you see, speak to (or text, Snapchat, Insta, Facebook, etc.) that Thanksgiving is for them. They do not need to feign lightheartedness or jollity to be grateful. You can walk with them where they are. They can be mourning, sad, waiting, weary, or concerned… and grateful. We are all there at times.
Thanksgiving isn’t just for happy people in easy seasons of life. Thanksgiving is for needy, broken, tired, people who are desperate for what God offers. Gratitude is for us.
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