Another week is digested down and the calm pause of the weekend is upon us. Time for reflection. Time to breathe. This the first weekend of November also brings with it thoughts of the season: the season of thanksgiving. Our family has begun a list, adding to it each day as we take turns putting to paper what our hearts are most grateful for. And, oh, the things that kids can come up with to give thanks for! An attitude of gratitude is what we are after.
A good friend (who also yields the pen well) recommended a book to me entitled "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. I, who am a painfully slow reader, have been gnawing away at this book since late summer. It is not a speed read. It is a book to nibble on, to mentally savor, to let marinade over on the heart for a while before coming back for more. The premise of the book is that every day is filled with blessings and joy, it's just up to us to find them and purpose to be grateful for what God has graciously given us, in all things. On a good day, most of us would agree with that premise if it weren't for the last phrase, '...in ALL things." And it is that phrase which Voskamp works so diligently at bringing to light.
Less than halfway through this read I find myself, as the providence of God would have it, in the pages about giving thanks during, when else, but the SEASON of giving thanks. (I love how He watches over us in even the smallest of ways. His attention to detail, so intimate.) A look into the New Testament reveals a couple of instances when Jesus Himself gave thanks. Jesus, the God-man, gave thanks? Must be an important cause, this cause of giving thanks. It was round the table with His dearest of worldly friends close by, them not fully understanding the symbolic feast that was before them, that He uttered the words. "He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19) This bread, the symbolism of his body soon to be broken, caused Him to give thanks. What was He thankful for? The pain? The physical agony? The separation to come between He and the Father? All of it. For through all of it would come the redemption of mankind, the purpose for which He entered our sphere. Jesus' work wasn't complete until He himself showed gratitude for the hard thing that God would bring about.
Earlier in the Scripture Jesus was again with those men-friends in the midst of a large crowd. The crowd was hungry for truth and food. The Savior had just finished feeding their souls and was ready to feed their stomachs. What was He given? Five loaves of bread and two fish. Only enough food for a small boy. How did he handle such an offering? By saying, "Take it back, boy. It is but a drop in the bucket"? No. "Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted." (John 6:11) As Voskamp says:
"Jesus embraces His not enough...He gives thanks...And there is more than enough. More than enough! Eucharisteo (giving of thanks) always, always precedes the miracle."
Twice Jesus shows us how to give thanks in the midst of hard things, the too-tough and the too-little. Recently a conversation with friends reminded me of the "hard eucharisteo" (to use Voskamp's terminology) Corrie Ten Boom encountered. The lice and fleas were so thick in their concentration camp barracks that the German guards refused to enter, thus allowing those Jews to escape certain abuse and torture. Corrie encouraged the other Jewish women to give thanks for the lice and fleas. Thanks for lice and fleas? When God is Sovereign over all, yes, thanks for lice and fleas.
In this season of Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks IN ALL THINGS. You never know what miracle is around the corner...and up His sleeve. Ephesians 5:20 - "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"