Scripture: "Give thanks to God—he is good and his love never quits. Say, 'Save us, Savior God, round us up and get us out of these godless places, So we can give thanks to your holy Name, and bask in your life of praise.' Blessed be God, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then everybody said, 'Yes! Amen!' and 'Praise God!'" 1 Chronicles 16:34 MSG
One thanksgiving, if you would have looked around the room or read through a list of what the past few weeks entailed in my life you wouldn’t have the word “gratitude” come to mind. Instead, there were big changes and transitions happening that wreaked havoc in my life. There were really difficult things happening far beyond the regular stressors of the holiday season.
But thanksgiving still rolled around like it always does. It was a thanksgiving I will never forget.
Based on what was happening in my life, the last thing that seemed to make sense was thankfulness.
Yet, that thanksgiving is one I remember because the sense of gratitude I felt was deeper than ever before.
If you have ever experienced a loss or hardship, you know that sometimes, when we experience something hard we actually experience deeper gratitude for what we have. For me, that year I felt thankful deep in my bones in a way I hadn’t before.
My focus moved from Black Friday shopping to really seeing the people around the table with me for who they were. Instead of worrying about the holiday season, I was just grateful to be at a table. I was thankful for a moment to pause, a moment to say this isn’t at all what I expected or hoped for, but I know God is still on the throne, and I’m grateful.
As the scripture above says, "He is good and His love never quits."
Maybe it’s easy for you to see what you have to be thankful for today. Or maybe, you’ve lost a lot. Maybe you feel like you have a long list of missed opportunities. Maybe you’re missing a person or a relationship. Maybe you feel far from where you hoped you would be.
Every year, we have the tradition to set a table, sit down and eat and celebrate and give thanks. Most years for me, this felt natural. I felt like it was clear to me that I had a lot to be thankful for.
Sometimes, we set the table and give thanks not because everything in life fits perfectly into an Instagram square, but because we are creating a space for communion and thanksgiving where there doesn’t seem like there should be one.
The Word tells us that the Lord prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5). When I think of my prayer life, I often think of communing with the Lord. I like to imagine him sitting next to me having my morning coffee. I like to picture Him sitting at the table with my husband and I when we pray at the end of our day before dinner.
I know He has the ability to respond, I know He can move in power and He can change every circumstance in a word. I know He is able to respond to every petition we desire to make.
But first, I want Him to turn His ear to me and to hear me say, “thank you,” even when it doesn’t make sense.
I want to respond to His invitation of communion in the presence of my enemies. I want Him to be invited into the hurt, loss, hardship and difficulty, but I also want Him to know that I am focused on my relationship with Him even if there is chaos around me.
Prayers of thanksgiving invite God into the same kind of communion we experience with one another at our thanksgiving tables. We set aside whatever difficulties we might have faced recently, and we eat pumpkin pie anyways.
In prayer still ask God to move. Share your petitions, hopes and dreams with Him. But start with thanksgiving.
We can start by saying we are setting a table for Him to come no matter what chaos is around us, and we can make time to sit down and say “thank you” first.
-What specific things are you grateful for today?
-How do you regularly practice giving thanks to the Lord?
-Is there a difficult or hard situation you or someone in your life is facing? How can you praise God in the midst of this situation?
God thank you for always being good to us and for your persistent love. Remind us this week of all that we have to be grateful for in you even if we are facing other difficulties or hardships in this season. Let our gratitude be a reminder of your goodness and faithfulness to the world around us. Amen.