What are you thankful for?
It's a question you'll be asked at least once today, probably more. It is, after all, the center of this feast of which we are about to partake, but it's a question that feels...well...cheap, and we know it the moment we start to answer.
It feels cheap not because it's cheap in itself, but because we, as a culture, have cheapened it. We don't really know what thankfulness is any more, not in the biblical sense, and so when most of us hear this question, what we really hear is, "Tell me about some of the good things in your life."
We also call these "blessings."
But is thankfulness, true thankfulness, really about the good things? Is it meant to center your heart on what's going right in your world, on all the things that are working out for you right now, on the stuff you're enjoying about living in this fallen flesh? Is thankfulness about your perspective, what you're willing to see...or is it something more?
The way we answer this question, we put all of the focus on ourselves. On our stuff. On our lives. Even when we say that we're thankful for God, what we're really saying is that we're thankful that we have God in our lives, that He does so much for us. It's still all about us, even though we've said His name.
No wonder it feels so cheap.
What we have to remember is that thankfulness is not a perspective; it's not about what we see or how we conceptualize our life in categories like good and bad, blessing and curse, working and not working. Thankfulness is a posture; it's about how we approach our life, about how we live it. It requires not a tremendous joy and celebration of what is "good," but a genuine, deep humility toward what is real.
Read that again: True thankfulness, the holy kind of thankfulness that God wants us to cultivate in our hearts, does not begin in joy, but in humility.
It's not about what we have or don't have, what God is doing or not doing, what we hope for or don't hope for. It's about how we orient ourselves to all of it, to both sides of the coin, to the highs and the lows. The world, we think, is asking for just our highs today, but God - as He always does - is asking for our heart.
What are you thankful for? It's a tough question to answer without feeling like we're whitewashing over something, like we're painting a picture without all of the colors of the real life we're living. It's cheap...but it doesn't have to be.
Humble yourself. Change your posture. Reorient the way you're living toward your life or, at the very least, honestly examine it. Start on your knees and look up - not in superficial joy, but in awe and wonder. For you live this life in the flesh, but by the Spirit, it is more. Beyond your wildest imagination or anything you could fathom.
So be thankful, truly thankful. And the best way to do that is not to merely confess all of the good things you've got going for you right now, but to live like it. To live like God loves you, not in your highs, but in your heart.
Because He does, you know. He loves you so, so very much.