Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a time when families gather around a traditional turkey dinner. Some go to great lengths to commemorate the historical events which brought us the holiday, a tribute to the first autumn harvest shared by Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians in 1621. Later, proclaimed a national day of observance by President Abraham Lincoln.
Ideally, it’s a warm and cozy gathering of loved ones where you eat delectable treats, exchange warm laughter, and give thanks for the bounty in your life.
As a Christian, one can deepen that spirit of thankfulness by acknowledging that it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord…
But what if, even in the spirit of Thanksgiving, it hasn’t been a very good season? I know that here in the States, amid a struggling economy and the escalating unemployment, many people are dealing with very difficult conditions. A job lost; an illness or death in the family, relational tension or misunderstandings. Maybe weariness has moved in because circumstances have enacted mutiny and any kind of relief looks distant.
Life, in those moments, can leave you feeling vulnerable, confused, drained, frustrated, discouraged, and questioning.
I found several references in the Bible regarding thankfulness. Truly, it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord. But when those periods in life occur when you just don’t feel it in your bones to muster the strength or desire, when every wall has caved in on you, it then becomes a sacrifice.
During trying situations, my own face has brushed the floor, prostrate, as I’ve uttered a desperate, heavenward cry. Just in case I missed something – if there is some unknown thing in my heart that needs dealt with, I say to my Lord: create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10), and, help me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).
When all is checked and there’s nothing left to do, though my heart might not want to due to disappointment in life’s sharp twists and turns, my mouth will utter simple thanks. With trembling I lift up a cup in praise. This is my sacrifice. I can only hope it is pleasing to my Lord, a bittersweet aroma drifting up from the altar of my fragility. On occasion, I have even whispered in brokenness…don’t forget about me.
It is usually at that point when I greatly sense the Lord—in his mercy, compassion, and benevolence—his love for his child—bend his ear low and listen. I would feel him. Know that he is near. That he envelops me in his presence. And that I might receive divine instruction accompanied with comfort.
“…what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
It is because of his great love for us that our concerns are more his than ours.
Thankfulness sometimes is a sacrifice. But it’s also a uniquely beautiful, divine, and pleasing surrender that has the power to uplift, instill hope, and transform when everything else fails.
Tessa Stockton is a multi-genre novelist of romance and intrigue. She is the author of The Unforgivable. Her second novel, The Unspeakable, a suspense/thriller set in Colombia, is scheduled for release in January 2013. She also has several fantasy-romance novellas slated to follow thereafter. Visit www.TessaStockton.com