I realize I've been lax at posting lately. Busy-ness has overtaken me again. That's a topic for another blog post, though. I need to take time to be introspective. . .
I wrote this in November of 2006 for the First Baptist Church of Yorba Linda's newsletter when my life was very, very different. In a way, life is both easier and more difficult in different ways than it was then. At the time, I struggled to pay rent, struggled to know what to do next with my life, struggled to understand whether I would be the "marrying" type. Today, Christian and I struggle to pay the mortgage in order to keep Claire out of daycare, struggle with what we should do next with our lives, struggle to raise a little soul that God has given to us to raise for Him in a era of complete uncertainty. Not much has really changed and everything has changed. I'm guessing there will be times in our lives that will be infinitely better and times that will seem so dark we won't know which end is up and which is down. But here it is- me, Sarah, on Thanksgiving circa 2006.
-George Herbert 1593- 1633
With everything going on in the world, it is incredible that Thanksgiving in America has still maintained much of its original purpose. A friend of mine in England once told me, "I think Thanksgiving is a holiday the British really should adopt from the Americans. It..s so pure and simple. There's no frantic gift exchange, no commercialism, it's merely getting together with people you love over a meal and thanking God for what has been given to you." Thanksgiving itself is something we rarely remember to be thankful for.
In the King James Bible, the word "thanks" occurs 73 times, "thanksgiving" 28 and "praise" is used on 248 different occasions. Yet, this does not even begin to cover the passages that imply giving thanks to God for His love and His care for His people. In the book of Hebrews, the author admonishes Jewish Christians, that, "by Him, therefore let us offer the sacrifice to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" Hebrews 13:15. Continually. I really had to meditate on that word. Considering the traditional first Thanksgiving celebration, I can't help but think about how seriously the Puritans took the Bible's command to continually give thanks, disregarding the circumstances. According to H.U. Westermayer, "The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have ever been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
I have to admit, I don't tend to "sacrifice continually the fruit of [my] lips giving thanks to His name." I know many people who do and I am, admittedly, in awe of them. In truth, I am more apt to be skeptical or questioning of God than to sit in gratitude for what He has done in my life and in the world. It seems that the stories and lives of these ardent Christians who left their homes for an unknown, hostile new world can teach us more than just a social studies lesson. Their faithfulness to God and to His commandments planted seeds in the history of one of the most influential nations on earth.
So how is it that we might continually remember to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18)? One reminder is directly from scripture. We cannot help but praise Him in all circumstances when we consistently remember that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow" (James 1:17). It's reminiscent of the old hymn that reminds us, "turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face, and the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace" Even in the harshest of situations, a reminder of what we really do have to be thankful for and an understanding that God's "grace is sufficient for thee" will be enough to fill the Thanksgiving celebrations for all of eternity.
This November, look around you for reasons to thank God. Family, friends, the beauty of the world around us and the wonder of our salvation are all gifts we can thank God for. Never promising us that we will be without hardships, God has blessed us in carrying us through our difficulties like just as the Puritans were carried through their struggles in the new world. They had the understanding to turn back and look on their journeys to see the hand of God guiding every step and could still sing with joy in their hearts,
"Now thank we all our God with hears and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mother's arms has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love and still in ours today."