|Posted on November 21, 2021 at 12:10 AM|
Thanksgiving is upon us! What are you most thankful for… beyond the grace and love of God? I am so grateful for my family, both biological and spiritual, a warm and beautiful home that God gifted me with, my health which is pretty robust for a nearly 65-year-old grandma, and the ability to recognize all the amazing things and people God has placed in my life.
Being part of our big, noisy, malfunctioning (sometimes) family is both an enormous blessing and a huge responsibility – but never a curse. In the day-to-day business of trying to get through life it’s easy to become complacent about our relationships and annoyed at the recurring irritations that go with them. That is, until we stop and think what life would be like if they were suddenly absent. The old saying “absence makes the heart go fonder” is really very true. Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone.
The Apostle Paul knew how to prioritize the balance between thankfulness and annoyance. He embraced the one and accepted the second for what it was – a temporary and fleeting issue that could be, with the appropriate work and correction, turned into a teaching moment. I wish we had half his common sense, and all his ability to love folks despite whatever they were going through.
I think his graciousness of spirit came because he realized how to love people through their imperfections. Maybe because of who he was prior to his ‘Damascus Road experience’ where God literally blinded him in order to give him true insight [Acts 22]. He was quite a mix of grit and grace.
In 1 Corinthians 1:4 he says, “I always thank my God for you…,” meaning the first thing he was grateful for was the very presence of the people in his life. He didn’t qualify it with anything by adding a ‘but’ to the end of that statement, he just thanked God for them – with all their idiosyncrasies, freckles and warts.
And then Paul finished the thought by stating his gratitude for “the gracious gifts He [God] has given you…” Primary was the person, secondary was what they would bring to the table. And that pretty much sums up what real thankfulness is all about.
We need to develop a mindset of gratitude at all times, and in all circumstances. That doesn’t sound easy, and it is not! But Paul even covered that, and perhaps gave his own formula for demonstrating the attitude he worked so hard to develop. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 he tells us to “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” All means all – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.
While we need to continually express our thankfulness to God for His other gifts, including grace and salvation, we must also learn to thank Him for the many dysfunctional, flawed, perfect, unexpected people He has placed in our lives. Because, trust me, they will be thinking the same about us. Being grateful for even the hard moments in our relationships puts it all in perspective.
Learning to express true gratitude to God is good for us and serves to remind that every good gift is from Him (James 1:17), including those we think we don’t really want. And it also helps us keep focused on the very real truth that we are all broken in one way or another. I embrace your blemishes and you embrace mine, and we give God the glory for putting us together in one strong well-knit unit.
So, this year at Thanksgiving and every day after that, whether I remember to tell you or don’t “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”
Be blessed my Friend, God is on the throne!