During this time of year, people tend to be more cheerful, more grateful, more generous, and more aware of precious time spent with loved ones. During the week of Thanksgiving, people often pause to list the things they are thankful for. While I am glad that people recognize this time of thanksgiving, for most, it is a flippant rattling off of a list typically composed of “Family, shelter, food, friends, a job, safety, etc.” Please don’t get me wrong, I am truly thankful for those things in my life, and praise God for them. But I believe the roots of thanksgiving go much deeper than this. I am sure that all of us are quite sincere in our thankfulness in a list like the one I described, but for me, I sadly only tend to focus on being thankful when it is in vogue, when everyone is gathered around a table, holding hands saying one thing they are thankful for. After that, I do not give a heart of thankfulness a second though. Oh what a tragedy this is! As I’ve reflected on the topic of thanksgiving, my heart has been broken. I’ve gone before my precious Savior on my knees seeking forgiveness for my heart that is slow in responding with an attitude of thanksgiving. I have not always been that way. But oh how quickly I forget the lessons I have learned in times past. Lately, I have been meditating on two passages of scripture regarding true thanksgiving. Precious one, please take notice of the way that thanksgiving is described here. Sacrifice. “An act of giving up something valued or highly prized for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
“And let the offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!”
Those verses are extremely cherished and dear to my heart. I have literally seen them in action in my life over the past year. You see, last thanksgiving I was at the lowest place I’ve ever been in my life. I was told something that changed some things in my life and hurt me so badly two days before thanksgiving. The very last thing on my mind last year was a desire to sit around a table piled high with food and declare how thankful I was. Call me a sinner, but that was my attitude. My heart was deeply hurting, and definitely did not feel like being thankful. At that moment, those verses came alive. I can remember like it was yesterday reading those and wondering how on earth I could respond with thanksgiving and joy. “No, no, no, that is too hard! My heart cannot handle it. Those psalms were penned by David, a man after God’s own heart, I am most definitely not David. I am Chelsea, a weak, broken girl who can barely see through the tears filling my eyes.” Those, my dear friend are the kind of thoughts that were floating around my head last thanksgiving.
An attitude of thanksgiving is not always the heart’s first response in tough situations or circumstances. I can attest that it was not mine at all. Through the tears and pain last year, I can say with full confidence that I did ultimately, by God’s grace, respond with thanksgiving. Why you may ask? When your heart was shattered, when your life seemed to stop, when nothing made any sense any more, why and how did you bring yourself to a place of thanksgiving? Beloved one, my foundation is Christ and Christ alone. When the foundation of my life is structured and built on strength, anything and everything may come my way, but I cannot be moved. I had to recognize that thanksgiving was necessary. Oh yes, it was most definitely a sacrifice, but I think it’s more beautiful and precious to God that way. When I feel down to the ground in a heap of tears and offered God true thanksgiving and praise from my lips and from my heart, I think He smiled down and was pleased. For me, the sacrifice part was sacrificing myself. I am selfish and honestly do tend to highly value and prize myself (like it says in the definition of sacrifice), so I literally had to lay myself down at the alter of God, resting in the promise that He would give me Himself. He is the treasured and adored prize that I received for my sacrifice.
As I sit here typing a year later, I feel like I am living in the latter part of that verse. I am glorifying my Father. In my day of trouble, distress, and sorrow, I cried to Him. I literally shouted His name at the top of my lungs, cried tears of anguish and begged Him for His presence to be made full in my life. My Beloved King came riding through my hurt and pain, broke through the darkness and night of my life and fulfilled the promise He made. HE DELIVERED ME!
“O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.”