Some of you have had a tough year. You’ve endured your share of criticism. Maybe you’ve lost a job. Maybe you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage. Now comes Thanksgiving. Can we thank God even when times are tough?
There used to be an old song, “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One By One.” We need to make lists of what we are thankful for – our families, friends, whatever we are thankful for. When times are tough, that’s when you need to remember everything God has given you.
So here’s my Thanksgiving challenge, complete the following 2 sentences:
1. This year it is easy to be thankful for ____________.
For myself this year, it is easy to be thankful. I started a blog, and miraculously today you are reading it. My oldest daughter Laura got engaged, my youngest daughter Dana graduated from college. God has given me the greatest job in the world. How about you? What is it easy for you to be thankful for this year?
The 2nd sentence completion might be a bit more challenging. It may be something you would never associate thanksgiving with. Perhaps it’s a loved one who passed away this year, or an unexpected medical diagnosis, or a financial issue, or maybe an area where instead of giving thanks, you need to pray.
This year it is most challenging to be thankful for ______________.
For myself, the challenging areas are minor: challenges of a tough economy in leading a church, friends battling illness, discovering some aches in my body that appear chronic.
A few years ago we attended my aunt’s funeral during Thanksgiving week. She had died suddenly. We had prayed for a miracle, thought we had gotten it when she came out of surgery, and a couple days later where celebrating God’s act, and then she died from a blood clot.
Yet in the challenge to give thanks, that is where we found the greatest comfort. We gave thanks for her life, for her love, for her baklava recipe, and for her faith in Christ that had wandered off during most of her adult years, but had come back the months before she died.
What I’ve learned is if I can’t thank God for what He has done. I begin to praise God for who I know He is, and that leads me to thanksgiving again. Habakkuk writes during a difficult time to give thanks. Judah’s a mess, not just economically, but also spiritually. God has spoken challenging words of what’s coming.
Habakkuk closes his book with these powerful words of Thanksgiving in Habakkuk 3:17-19a, 17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. (NIV 1984)
That’s the tale of Habakkuk’s day. That’s the power he discovered in being thankful even if …
How about you? What’s your Thanksgiving story this day? How would you fill Habakkuk’s “Thanksgiving Template” with your own story?
17Though ______________________ does not and there are no ________________________, though the ________________________________ fails and the ______________________ produce no ___________________________ … 18yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my _______________________________. 19The Sovereign LORD is my _______________________; he makes my __________________ like ____________________________, he enables me to ____________________________.
Have a great Thanksgiving!