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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Thanks-giving?

 I recall the summer I learned why thanks-giving. Why the offering up of praise is key to discovering the life that God intends for us. How the breathing of gratitude changes everything...
It was actually just this past summer. Because I had to live the two existences that beset many a believer: walking in the prosperity while still dwelling with the broken; embracing the light of His love while still feeling the affects of an inner darkness never far away; choosing daily to live in faith while yet combating the fears. That's when I realized that the art of giving thanks is a must. 
I had to find the little things to bless God for...while I once again entered the hospital halls I never wished to return to; while I also had to continue in my work responsibilities; while others kept asking for my time (and my help)...when I felt like I could give them none; while I needed to give when all I wanted to do was be held. I had to find the little things to thank God for...because I had to look for Him somewhere...everywhere. I needed to see evidences of His love because otherwise, my heart was about to shut off. All it wanted to do was protect itself. 
The racing heartbeats pounded out the rhythm of my fears; the quivering of my body threatened to tear me nearly in half; the mind went wild as it imagined everything possible...everything meant to scream that He's not good. 
I recall the days when I had to put on the music and praise the crazy right out of myself. I had to tell myself that love was still there...that God was moving. All I needed to do was look. 
Sometimes the effort it took to keep bringing my chaotic self back to the ordering of God took every ounce of my strength. But I refused to give in to the lie that had led me down the paths of darkness so many years ago: the lie that He has lost control...and I am not loved. 
Even when I made the trek between hospital and baseball diamond multiple times, even when I continued to attempt to meet the responsibilities of life and job, even when it all seemed to very wild...I kept on thanking. 
I knew I had to.
I knew I would not get through this valley any other way. 
On the other side of it now, I see it clearly: thanksgiving is the release of the soul's "yes". 
It is what keeps the heart from growing life-less. It is what helps it to heal. It is the buffer between the life-blows and desired peace. It is what enables a person to sing praises...even when everything around them tells them otherwise. 
I understand why thanks-giving because I understand why God. The punctuation is what makes the difference. It can be a why with a question mark: why God? why thanks-giving? Or it can be why with a period: why God. why thanksgiving. Actually with an exclamation point...because we agree with Him. And we choose to be grateful. 
I don't think I've ever headed into the holiday season with more joy. I've spiritually left it all out there this year. It's taken just about all I have at times to keep trusting, keep believing, keep praying through. But I am stepping forward in deep, deep gratitude. Because He's blessed the broken road. He's blessed the pain. He's used the ache to birth forth something new. All of the days of fighting for joy, fighting to stave off fear with faith - He's redeeming all of those. And I see it now. 
What cause, therefore, do I have to be un-grateful?! What reason can I think of to not bless?! 
When He's been so good...when's He's carried through...when He's loved so abundantly...
Where is there any room for doubt?!
I don't agree with Joel Osteen on much, but this I must say is too often what keeps us from experiencing Him to the fullest:

"One of the main reasons that we lose our enthusiasm
in life is because we become ungrateful...we let what
was once a miracle become common to us. We get so
accustomed to His goodness it becomes a routine..."

O Savior...do not let my ingratitude shut up my eyes to Thy grace! Give me faith and vision to see Thy miracles for what they are...
Give me a heart that is always open to Thee...even when the pain runs deep. Through all things, let me breathe the necessary prayer: thank You for everything!