My friend's father died suddenly last week. We stood in line for two hours Monday night in order to pay our respects to the family, to hug our friend, to tell her how much we love her and her family, to grieve with those we love who grieve.
Death and loss and grief, these sober us, give us pause, make us think. I've been strangely--or not so strangely--nostalgic all week as I not only contemplate mortality but also as I contemplate life and grace and providence. As I ponder, I am thankful and this gratitude serves to teach me important, difficult truths about the grace of thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving helps me remember that God is faithful. How I am prone to doubt! Thanksgiving reminds me that God was faithful and good yesterday and He will indeed be faithful and good to me today. I can trust Him.
Thanksgiving expresses submission to the sovereignty of God. When I thank the Lord, I say that what He has given me is right and good and acceptable and perfect. Acknowledging the gift in humble, thankful gratitude places me in trust and submission before the Giver.
Thanksgiving teaches me humility. God is faithful. God is sovereign. I cannot be proud before these twin truths. Recounting His faithfulness to me in submission to His sovereignty displays true humility before Him.
I saw Monday night the evidence of a life well lived, a life that served others, a life full of friendship and family and faith. I saw a widow and a daughter both give thanks through their tears for the joy of having known and having loved. In their heartbreak, they yet trust the faithfulness of their sovereign God.
May the Lord teach us to be a thankful people, not just in November but throughout our lives, "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph. 5:20)