Turkey on the table, smiles on the faces. Family together and music in the background. And here, now we gather to give thanks. But what is it, then, that we give thanks for? Turkey on the table, smiles on the faces, family together and music in the background. Peace and comfort. Food and drink. Family and neighbors. A slice of annual happiness that we try to conjure up with some sights, sounds, and smells.
We give thanks for the simple joys in our everyday life. Of course we do. We thank our God who has handed us our daily bread. Our everything that sustains us on this earth. Our perfectly moist turkey, our good-paying job, our modestly decorated home, our accomplished children. We thank our God very conveniently for his gifts that make us beautiful and successful in the neighborhood.
We give thanks, of course we do, for awhile. Until our joy fades to grey. Our thanks fall quiet when we receive our bland and bitter daily bread. Our everything that sustains us on this earth. Our soggy green beans, our frustrated achievements, our cracking ceiling, our annoying sister-in-law. We neglect to thank our God very conveniently for the gifts that make us shudder and sigh. The gifts that humiliate, those we want to forget.
In doing so, we have fooled ourselves. We have blindly believed that we are wading in a shallow puddle of gifts given. When its a good day. Where the mood is just right. When the stars align and there is peace at the dinner table. We give thanks only when we are healthy, wealthy, and wise. Otherwise, it is not a gift worthy of thanks.
In doing so, we have fooled ourselves. We have forgotten about the deep and unfathomable giving of God. When we are in distress. Where enemies surround. When there is no hope in sight. This is where God sustains: surpassing all hunger, sadness, and despair. And very often, we can’t seem to remember the depth of God’s gifts until our comfort and peace have been destroyed.
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 118
The steadfast love of God isn’t baked into an apple pie. The enduring mercy of God isn’t earned by a successful career. Rather, God is good because he has defeated every evil. God is good because he entrenched your path to everlasting life. God is good because he remembers poor miserable sinners in his glorious kingdom. Good is good because he sent his only Son to be sacrificed on a cross so that you will have eternal life. No matter what you thank him for.
Our failings, our troubles, our meaningless journeys, our lonely nights, these are gifts that are worthy of our thanksgiving. Here is where we get to call and cry to the only one who will endure. Here is where our trust is focused on the only hope that will save. Opening the floodgates. More than we can handle. Drowning in his gifts. He raises us to the surface to take a breath. His steadfast love endures forever.
We give thanks for turkey on the table, thirst and famine. We give thanks for smiles on the faces and tears of shame. We give thanks for family together, covid causing separation, and cancer calling us to rest. We give thanks for the beautiful music in the background and the maddening Facebook posts on our phone. Because God is good, and because his mercy endures forever, we can thank him while we suffer and while we rejoice. They are all gifts, every single one. Give thanks to the Lord!