Today is a day where we in America pause to give thanks. For weeks, many of us have been talking about what we are thankful for, counting our blessings and naming all of the beautiful things in our lives.
But that's not really what thankfulness is.
Thankfulness is not a reaction that we should have to the circumstances or contents or contexts of our lives. It is not something we do in response to what this world, this life, or even our God, does for us. It is not a propositional exchange.
Faithfulness is a state of being.
It's this thing that comes welling up from somewhere deep inside of you, and it's as unshakable as the depth of your faith. It's just natural, it's the kind of thing that you'd have to either try really hard not to be or just neglect long enough that you forget that it's there.
The very concept is difficult. It's hard because we spend so much of our lives in comparative thanks. On our best days, we're told we ought to be thankful that we have good days like these because others don't, and on our worst days, we're reminded to be thankful because others are having days much worse than ours. And we have learned to judge our thanks by what we have and what others don't have and what life looks like through just the right lens.
That's not thankfulness. It's arrogance. It's doing whatever we have to do to think more highly of ourselves, then being thankful for the view from up here.
When we read the Scriptures, there is certainly a theme of thanksgiving. God calls His people to live thankful lives. But not once does He tell them what they should be thankful for. Not once.
Not once does He say, "Be thankful, for you have it better than all the other nations. Be thankful, for I am your God and that's really good for you. Be thankful, for the land has produced great fruit this year for you. Be thankful, for you have enough on your table and your neighbor doesn't." It's not the way God goes about it. He just says we should be thankful. Not "for" anything, but because thankfulness is at the very core of who we are;
it is part of awe.
That's hard, I know. It's hard because it's so difficult to put into words that anyone can understand unless they already know it. But just because it's hard doesn't mean we tuck it away and settle for something less; this is essential. This is the very essence of who we are.
Thankfulness is part of that smallness that we feel when we stand in the greatness of God and His creation. It's part of the way that our hearts tingle a bit under the night sky, a million stars lit up over us and we, so big in our own britches, just a speck. It's part of that humility that just sort of settles in us when we realize that what we're doing is so much bigger than us, or when we read the pages of God's story and know that He's still writing it right now, with our names penciled in. It's part of that overwhelming sense that just drives us to our knees before the altar. Thankfulness is so much a part of the core of our very creation. We shouldn't have to be reminded to be thankful. We are thankful, by God's own design.
We just have to remember it.
So today, as we gather...as we count our blessings and name all the beautiful things in our lives, let thankfulness be one of those beautiful things. Let it radiate through your entire being, permeate down to the depths of your core. Let that thread of thanksgiving that runs through all of creation weave its way through your very soul.
There won't be words to speak. At least, I've never found any. But it's this most incredible feeling. For a moment, for just a moment, in real thankfulness, we touch Eden.