I pray this Thanksgiving finds you surrounded by the people you love most.
And I pray that you’re still thankful — even if that’s not your experience this year.
Personally, I find myself in a state of “thankful, even though…”
Even though the world seems to be falling apart in so many ways, I’m thankful that God is faithful.
Even though my own personal life hasn’t come together the way I wished it would, I’m thankful that God is always at work in the hearts of his children.
Thankfulness as an Act of Faith
I’ve been reading “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. There’s a chapter called “The Gaze of the Soul,” where Tozer tries to define faith.
He tells the story from Numbers 21 in the Bible. God’s answer to an outbreak of venomous snakes was to tell Moses to hold up a bronze snake on a pole. When the Israelites looked at the serpent, they were cured of the fatal venom running through their veins.
Later, in the Gospels, Jesus’ disciple John links Moses lifting the bronze serpent in the desert to Jesus being lifted up to a sacrificial death on the cross. The Israelites needed just enough faith to look up to the serpent and be cured. Today, we need faith to look to Jesus and “have eternal life in him” (John 3:15).
Other than a brief description in Hebrews 11:1, the Bible doesn’t give a clear definition of faith. Tozer settles on this definition: “faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”
The simplest and most practical thing a Christian can do is look at God. That’s what I’m thankful for this year.
There are problems in this world that are not right. There are things in my life that I wish were different.
But I look to the Lord.
God is the author and perfecter of our faith. As the author, He creates our faith. It’s also his job to make it better and better each day.
Faith has very little to do with me. My only part is obedience.
To me, that’s the truest definition of being thankful. Thankfulness comes easily when things are good. It’s easy when life is looking up.
But can you give thanks when your prospects are down? When life isn’t going the way you wish it would?
Can you give thanks when life is hard and full of trouble?
Focusing on Facts
You might be thinking: “Juan, how do I give thanks when everything in my life is going wrong?”
To me, thankfulness is about focusing on the facts and not on the circumstances or the emotions of the moment.
When I get sick, I feel awful. However, I can remain thankful. I can reflect on how I’m still alive. I can be thankful that I have medicine to help me feel better and get healthy again.
When things are bad, rather than focusing on the negative things, I choose to focus on what is good.
Ultimately, God is good. And that doesn’t change.
And honestly? We still live in a country with many advantages. Even when things are bad by our standards, we still have it good. It’s not quite wiping your tears with $100 bills, but it’s close.
We’re not living through a war. We’re not suffering through starvation. When we have trouble, we have so many helpful resources — especially compared to most of the world.
Thankful for Seniors’ Patience
Finally, this year, I’m thankful for our seniors. I’m thankful that they give us wisdom. I’m thankful for the perspective they offer.
I’m also thankful that they’re so patient with us. Usually, when we talk about patience and seniors, we think of the patience we offer them.
However, I think they give us more patience than we realize. It must be frustrating to be 70 or 80 or 90 and continue to be gracious to the people who rush you along.
I can imagine them thinking, “Look, I’ve been alive for decades longer than you, and you’re trying to be patient with me?” I know that’s how I will feel in my 80s.
However, our seniors allow us — a bunch of young people with less experience — to serve them. And they’re totally gracious with us.
If you’ve had the experience of raising a toddler or two, you probably watch new parents running after a 2 year old with a palpable memory of the exhaustion.
Our seniors just don’t get tired of running around with us. I’m thankful they don’t.
God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving.