“What are you thankful for?”
In the weeks and days leading up to Thanksgiving, I’m usually asked this question more times than I can count. However, this year, I haven’t been asked this question once.
And it makes me wonder why.
- Are we too immersed in the dailiness of our lives to stop and ponder what we are thankful for? To ask others what they are grateful for?
- Are we too focused on our Christmas shopping to reflect on the impact the people we are purchasing gifts for have on us?
- Are we too distracted by what we don’t have to appreciate what we do have?
- Are we believing the lie that our gifts from God are His obligation to give and our right to take?
As my mind wandered down the path of considering all these questions, I started to entertain the thought: Why do I wait to be asked this question (“What are you thankful for?”) to give thankfulness my direct attention? And even then, why don’t I give it the sincerity it deserves?
Don’t get me wrong, I regularly thank God for His blessings and appreciate the gifts He’s given me. But my concern was for the quality of my thanksgiving. Do I truly, genuinely cherish the gifts Jesus has so freely (and purposefully) given me?
As I wrestled with these questions, I realized this ugly truth: Far too often, I take God’s blessings for granted. I treat them like they’re His obligation to give and my right to receive. That somehow I deserve what He’s given me. And, I’m ashamed to say, there have been times I’ve believed it’s what He’s owed me for my obedience.
How arrogant! How prideful! What lies!
And I know better!
I know the Lord owes us nothing. Not our life. Our salvation. Or even a role in His plan. But yet, He desires to give us good gifts, to engage us in a relationship, and to spend eternity with us. None of this is deserved. None of it is earned. It’s ALL given to us by His grace alone.
Oh, God, forgive us.
Us? Yes, us.
We’ve all been guilty of this to some degree, haven’t we?
And we’re not the first ones.
We see this attitude of entitlement throughout Scripture:
- From Adam and Eve to the days of Noah and the Patriarchs.
- From Israel’s redemption from Egypt to the tumultuous days of the kings.
- From the times of the prophets before, during, and after the exile to the days of Jesus, Paul, and the apostles.
As I confessed my arrogance and pride, the spirit spoke to my heart. He challenged me to take my thankfulness another level:
Baby, you need to pause and reflect on how God has blessed your life.
Not just stopping to thank Him for His blessings, but also to ponder how His blessings have enhanced and changed your life’s trajectory.
In other words, meditate on how your life would be different had He not blessed you with those gifts.
The profoundness of this was not lost on me. I could see the value in it. So I started by asking the Lord to open my mind to see what could have been had He not stepped in. I also asked Him to protect me from flippant and grossly hubristic Christian-ese sayings like, “But for the grace of God, so would I be….”
And He has been faithful.
Since then, He’s been using what He’s shown me to change me. To grow me. To draw me closer to Himself. He’s helping me see every good and perfect gift He’s given me in a drastically different light. And as a result, I’m experiencing His grace and love more deeply than I could have imagined. But more importantly, my love for my Savior is more fierce than ever.
See, every blessing from my husband, children, and friends to saving me from a suicidal pit of depression and despair, from giving me a role in His plan to gathering a team to take this ministry to His foreordained destination, from my salvation to my invitation to spend eternity with Him all has a new profoundness. A new value. A new purpose.
My friend, as Jesus gave me glimpses into who I would be had He not blessed me with His many blessings, I experienced the vastness of His compassion and grace. I know with absolute certainty that every blessing, big or small, noticed or unseen, has directly impacted my life and its trajectory. Without Jesus and His blessings, I would be lost. Without hope. Angry. Bitter. And a whole host of other unimaginable things.
The same is true for you.
So this Thanksgiving, I challenge you to ponder what you are thankful for. How each one of God’s blessings has impacted your life and its trajectory. And how your life would be different had He not blessed you.
I promise your life will change. So will your heart.
And your faith? It will grow.
Until Next time,