There is an old tradition that is either beloved or dreaded: sitting around the family table on Thanksgiving, each person taking turns saying what they are thankful for. How do you feel about this Turkey Day ritual? Are you able to look back across a year, since the last Thanksgiving (granted, many of us didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving 2020 the usual way), and reflect out loud on the blessings you’ve received, or is it a struggle to come up with even one blessing to count? Some days, or times that extend to years, feel so overwhelming, even the least inconvenience can be experienced as an insurmountable obstacle to happiness or contentment, joy or peace. My mind takes me to 2 Corinthians 4: 8- 18:
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Even in the abundance of pain we may know in these broken, mortal lives, when the world robs us of any sense of things for which to be thankful, our hope in the blessings of God can be certain. One of our brothers in Christ, in response to the question, “How are you?”, always answered with “I woke up breathing today, so I must be alright.” God grants us with life in each breath, Christ delivers a new life beyond our troubled lives, Holy Spirit makes a way where there was no way, the impossible to bear made possible to overcome.
This perspective may seem out of reach. Nurturing a mind for blessings can be a spiritual discipline for any of us to practice. Imagine – then put into practice! – a daily ritual of naming three blessings to others, a way to keep you focused on developing a discipline of paying attention throughout each day of blessings that come. Giving thanks and sharing that thanks as a witness for others to hear will change your frame of mind as you become thoughtful of what you will need to share; it will change your vision, as you intentionally seek out the blessings that come, blessings so much more likely to be seen if you are only looking.
Holy God, guide us so that our way may align with Your Way. Put within us a vision to see Your Presence and to speak a thanksgiving with every breath we have of Your Glory.
Blessings on the Journey,