Rejoice in the Lord

thankful blessed signage
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength.  Habakkuk 3:17-19  (ESV)

A memory from family lore is the time my four-year-old brother, urged to say thank you for a gift he didn’t want, said to relatives: “Thank you for the no candy.”  If that sounds like what Habakkuk said in the verses above, we may miss the point.  Sure, we could have a cynical Thanksgiving this year after covid-19 lock-downs, financial hits and political anxieties.  Habakkuk reminds us that when you tally up the bad stuff, there is far more good stuff with our God.  The Lord is our salvation and the strength of our life.

Maybe when material blessings of health, wealth and happiness are diminished, it’s easier to thank God for his presence and his promises.  Maybe when this life seems a bit bleak, the next life becomes more dear.  This Thanksgiving, let’s just thank God for who he is, what he’s done for us, and what he has in store for us.  When current hardships occupy too much of your thoughts, remember the blessings of the past and the eternal life ahead.

And if you want to think about what you don’t have this Thanksgiving, include a whole lot of bad things from which God has spared you.  Thank God for the illnesses you haven’t suffered, the financial destitution you didn’t experience, and the family heartaches that aren’t yours.  Above all, thank God that eternal condemnation doesn’t describe your future because Jesus endured that for you.  Thank God that you don’t have to wonder whether God loves you, because Jesus’ cross screams how much he loves you. 

Maybe this Thanksgiving is about what God has spared us, not just what he’s given us.  Take joy in the God of your salvation.  He is your strength.

PRAYER: Forgive us, Lord, for shallow thankfulness in the past and for faithless worries in the present.  Focus our hearts on your goodness and mercy, on blessings we don’t deserve and heartaches we haven’t endured.  Forgive our griping and negativism; but heal our hurts and show us your love.  All this we ask because Jesus has made us your dearly loved children.  Amen.

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