In the book of Revelation, Ch 7, it says that “God will wipe every tear from their eyes”. I think that this indicates hardship in life. We are walking through a wasteland of phony idols and false prophets. We tend to think of the gospel as all singing and celebration, but the central message is that we are failures, morally bankrupt.
But it is precisely when we grasp hold of that and understand the grace of God that our hearts are most prepared for gratitude.
I missed my mom this week. It has been 6 years since she passed away- but I felt emptiness and pain as I returned from a fun weekend at a Florida State game. As soon as we crossed over into Alabama, on a cold and rainy Sunday- I felt a deep sense of sadness. It is a sneak attack- when you least expect it.
Monday morning was just as dreary. And I got hit with some of those thorns of personal life and pressures of professional life.
So Tuesday morning.. here I was… getting ready for some time to thank God… and all I felt was blah!
Then, in God’s gracious timing, He had Isaiah 12 waiting on me. Written 700+ years before Christ, it was there waiting on a wounded heart.
I raced through it…. Skimmed over it…. Then it grabbed me.
12:1 You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
This first section is a personal testimony. The ‘you’ is singular. And it is a projection… I will say “in that day”.. What day? The day of the Lord (future), and the day of my conversion (past), and any good day of repentance (present).When I get weighed down by life, I am losing perspective and I am not clinging to the Lord, I am not trusting Him.
The first step in finding that soft, moldable, and thankful heart is repentance. And receiving His full forgiveness- the great gospel message of GRACE.
2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
This second section was even more a draw… the word FEAR. The older I get, the more I find fears gripping me. I have about decided that cable news doesn’t help… fear of economy, fear of financial future, my job stability, the stability of our nation. It is easy to let Obama ruin my thanksgiving.
But money, security, government… they are not my strength…THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH.
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
The “you” in verse 3 now become plural.
The steps so far have been:
Life beats us down
The Lord lifts us up.
DWELLING DEEP in the gospel of His loving grace.
Then we cling to Him… He is our deliverer.
Now…. The next big step… Share it in COMMUNITY.
This is where C.S. Lewis helps me a lot- I recently re-read “The Weight of Glory” and was reminded how he counter-intuitively brings out recognizing the worth of others and our need to love and shine for others.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
I feel my heart being helped- I feel my heart being healed.
My desire this thanksgiving is to love people, to rest in Jesus, to feel His warmth and protection, and enjoy the presence of others.
Guess what this week brings? I get to be with my wife! I get to be with my kids! I get to share the sweet sanctuary of their sweet fellowship. And I want to be engaged with others… I want my family to see my thankful heart radiating with peace and confidence… with joy and celebration.
And how do we do that: reflect on the gospel- accept God’s love- share it with others… and now I say HAPPY THANSGIVING TO ALL!