Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? Some of us have travel plans – to visit loved ones. Some of us have cleanup plans – for those visiting you. Many of us have some form of food preparations on our minds – either plans for the turkey in the oven, or some family recipes done to perfection, or something from the store to the host!
It truly is a joy to get to turn off all activities of work and mental planning for 24 hours and just be refreshed in the company of your loved ones. The frenetic pace of the country slows down for some reflection, aided no-doubt by turkey torpidity!
Now, for the heart of the matter – among your many blessings, what are you most thankful for? In broad categories, what pleasant things this year, do you rejoice in? It may help to stop reading for a few moments and count them down. There is no substitute to just stop and meditate on the agreeable accruements of our lives and giving thanks to the source of these pleasures.
Now, what about the unpleasant events and people in your life? Should the opposite be done?
• Be bitter? That only increases the torment.
• Ignore them? That just hides the problem until it resurfaces with greater vigor.
• Embrace them? Only the masochists can truly do that. And even they have to bury some part of themselves to revel in pain.
So now, what does a Christian do in this situation? The Christian also sees life in terms of the pleasant and the unpleasant. However, there is a greater category that these experiences fall into – that of good and evil. When thinking in such categories, not all pleasantries plop neatly into the good, nor do all unpleasantness jump into the trash-bin of evil.
The Christian thanks God, as the ultimate source of all good, for pleasant events in life. The Christian also thanks God, for the most unpleasant life events. There are trials we would not choose for ourselves, which God seems to bring into our lives – the loss of a job, the loss of health, the bereavement over the death of a dearly beloved. Can such unpleasantness be reconciled with the good?
The answer is in a simple word – trust.
Where do you put your confidence in? If it is in your own ability, your own wisdom, your own prescience into the future, then what your mind determines to be evil must be so. You have no other basis than your exalted self from which to judge good and evil from each of life’s events.
The Christian, alternatively, recognizes that his own vision is severely limited. His wisdom is like a child’s fixation upon easily forgotten satisfactions. The Christian has had a vision, a deeply satisfying one, of the God of heaven and earth. This God has become her supreme Good. Life has now become but a pathway to eternity with the Lord of her soul.
God is understood as more interested in my good than I can ever be. God is the author and fashioner of my life’s journey. This God changes the categories of pleasant and unpleasant, to those of good and evil. He reveals these categories clearly in His revealed Word.
Thus the Christian no longer gauges the merit and demerit of each event, but lives by trust – seeking to please God through the vicissitudes of life. God takes the greater responsibility of fashioning the pleasant and the unpleasant for my good.
As I can witness, as countless others can, life truly finds meaning in God alone. I don’t see what my next job will be… yet. God knows. I know my Father in heaven has it all worked out. The pastor does not know if his cancer will return. God knows. The father does not know how he will ever get over the grief of losing his child. God is there, holding both the infant and her father.
Consider your own blessings and your future this Thanksgiving. Are you thankful for just the pleasant? I hope you are thankful for God. Then you can truly be thankful for all that God gives. Happy Thanksgiving!