I wanted to avoid the cliché of writing about thankfulness around the Thanksgiving season, but it’s just such a strong point that I cannot get past it. There are so many things to be thankful for, even while we may be going through the darkest times, there’s always some lifeline God has provided for us to not be drowning in sorrow.
As I recently studied to prepare a lesson for our preschoolers, I was reminded of one of the prayers that Jonah prayed. Even though he was tossed overboard to preserve lives of others (on a ship he shouldn’t have been on), although he nearly drowned in the depths of the sea with the seaweed wrapping around him, though he was eaten alive by a massive fish of some sort, Jonah recognized that God had preserved his life. Now, don’t get me wrong, Jonah’s not the ultimate example of a right attitude towards God. Not by any means. In fact, at the end of the story he was angry that God had given second chances to a people who had been wicked towards his own people, even while he had only just received the gift of a life preserving second chance as well. Yet even Jonah recognized that God had given him another chance. We can relate to that!
In fact, God gives not just second chances, but what seems like an infinite number of chances. We struggle constantly in living our lives for God. In fact, we fail time and time again. Throughout our lives anyone is able to look back and point to decisions big and small being made to better ourselves. It could have been something we did to upgrade our social status, reputation, our rank in a company, or even turning down opportunities to help someone or socialize for the sake of our own TV schedule. We make selfish decisions big and small which further our own agendas all the time. Many of them come and go without seeming to have any consequence. In those cases, God may be extending grace despite ourselves.
Some of our decisions do cause major issues in our lives. Many lives derail and crash, and some have crashed hard. Yet, even in those times God extends His hand to help us somehow, in some way. Maybe it was in a prison cell when we thought nothing could help us, nothing could save us from ourselves, but yet God gave us a fresh start and we found hope. Maybe like Jonah, you had a self-inflicted near death experience and were rescued in your own unlikely and miraculous way. God is like that. Nothing can keep us from Him, no matter how bad it gets. He can’t be stopped, by us or others, from meeting us in our darkest places and rescuing us and pressing the reset button on our lives. He’s so good in the most unexpected ways!
The apostle Paul put it this way: “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:38-39)
I’m so grateful for the many chances God has given me. The grace our Father has with us amazes me constantly. What incredible patience! What incredible love! I challenge you to look over your journey of life, see what God has done, and even what He may be doing right now and rejoice. While we should do it more often than one holiday a year, take advantage of a day called Thanksgiving and celebrate the chances He’s given and the love He shows to us. Take some time to really express how thankful you are.
I understand Thanksgiving is also a hard time for many. Some find themselves without people to share it with. If you don’t have plans, please reach out to someone. Don’t be alone. If you do have plans, make room for others in your home and at your table. Be hospitable and open your hearts and homes. It’s an incredible way to reflect the love of God to someone who may not know it yet, and that’s precisely why we’re given all these chances, to share God with others. Help someone else start down that journey with God where they’ll be inseparable from His love.
May your Thanksgiving holiday fill your heart and home with joy as you share life with one another and recognize all that God has done, is doing, and will do for all of us.