What one of us hasn’t sat around the Thanksgiving table packed with all the trimming and then had the matriarch or patriarch of the family say something like, “Okay, before we eat I want to go around the table and have everyone share one thing they are thankful for.” The answers often end up being much the same, good health, family, our homes, friends, the country we live in or something like that. These are great things for us to be thankful for. Indeed each one of these things is a gift from the hand of God. But allow me for a minute to challenge our thinking a bit. What would we say if the year that had just passed was one full of tragedy? What would we say if a loved one had passed away, our own health had been severely challenged, we had lost our job, money was more than tight and we had to question where each meal was coming from. What if this year there was no ability to have a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimming at all? Frankly, most of us can’t even imagine and we may never have to imagine such a scenario in our lives but what if…
One of the most fascinating characters in the Bible, to me, is Job. Most of us know the story. God allows tragedy upon tragedy to come Job’s way and what he goes through is unimaginable. When we think of the story of Job we typically think the point or moral of the story is ‘Where is God, when it hurts?’. But I would contend the moral of Job’s story is really ‘Where was Job in relationship with God when it hurts?’ With this thought in mind, and knowing that certainly God has giving us Job’s story as an example, I am struck by the Job’s words when he receives news of calamity and the death of all his children. He says, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” I don’t know about you but that would not be my first reaction. This response seems unreal, super-spiritual or maybe just out of touch with reality. And yet Job’s response intrigues me, it draws me in. Is there any greater word of Thanksgiving to God than this?
It seems to me that most of the time we thank God based upon our comparison with someone else. We look at our family, health, finances, home, and food primarily through the lens of comparison to others. And with that lens we are usually better off than others. But what if we weren’t, what if we were the ones at the bottom of society’s heap? Could we still be thankful? Could we say “blessed be the name of the Lord?” I think we could but it wouldn’t be easy and it would require us to see thanksgiving through a whole different set of lenses. The only way I know to have enduring thankfulness is to be thankful for those things which are enduring. The love of Jesus is just such an amazing gift Romans 8:35-39, Psalm 136:1ff. The presence of God is with us at all times and forever, even in and through death. Psalm 23:4, Matthew 28:20. God is faithful for all time and his salvation, guidance and transformational power in our lives in enduring I Cor. 1:8-9, Rev 7:10, Phil 1:6. And these examples are only the tip of the iceberg of the blessing of God’s enduring presence in our lives through our Savior Jesus Christ.
Let me encourage you this year to think a bit more about those truly enduring blessings that are yours in Christ. These blessings never change, are not subject to the stock market’s rise and fall, are not dependant upon the frailty of our bodies and can not be altered to any natural disaster. While all other aspects of our lives the ‘Lord gives and the Lord takes away’, His love, salvation, faithfulness, grace, mercy, presence and trustworthiness are enduring for all time and eternity. “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”