Thankfulness is a way of life! Of course we are grateful for all those things that give us joy. Most often in our prayers of thanksgiving we name specific people or situations. We name our spouses and partners, friends, the children in our lives; we name neighbors, relatives, leaders and teachers; we name things like our new parish hall, classrooms and kitchen; we name those who love us and those who work on our behalf. There are so many people and things that we can name for which we are all truly grateful every day of our lives. It would be impossible for us to truly name every good gift that God has given us in the course of our lives. Try writing them down sometime. Share them with people you love.
Through the grace of God many wonderful things come to us in our lives. And that same loving grace brings us strength, wisdom and companionship to face the challenges that life gives us. When disaster or misfortune or catastrophe strikes us personally or in the world around us, some people believe that somehow it is a message from God. The particular misfortune is God’s way of punishing or demonstrating displeasure with us.
This can not be further from the truth of God’s love.
God whose qualities are love and mercy is not a God who seeks or responds with vengeance and death. God whose qualities are love and mercy only offers good things, things that we need, things that bring us ultimate joy and security.
So where is God when these disasters and misfortunes strike us? God is there. God is in the pain with us; God is in those who surround us; God is in the Holy Spirit who comforts us. God is in the healing and restoration. God is always in the rescue.
Knowing that all of us are embraced by a God of love, puts us in a constant mode of thanksgiving. Knowing that no matter what befalls us, God is there.
In the midst of war, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day. He focused on the glimpses of goodness that all the affected communities demonstrated. He knew that God is the ultimate goal of all human endeavors. He knew that the war was not of God’s doing but the peace would be.
In a year of national pain of war and floods, death and homelessness, focus on the what the people have done to respond. In our own lives when we have faced pain and suffering, focus on those around us who comforted us, who rescued us, cured us, walked with us. This is how God responds. God does not pick and choose who should have solace. God offers it to all. For that we are grateful.
As we sit with our families and friends at Thanksgiving, look around the table and see God looking back at you. As you begin the Christmas hustle, look at the people hurrying around to get something to make somebody smile. See God in their faces. And know that that is how God is. God is always acting to give us only good things. And again for that, we are truly thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends.