God’s Glory:The Heart of Thanksgiving
God’s Glory: The Heart of Thanksgiving
As the calendar turns to November, I’m preparing myself for something I’d really rather not face: my first deployed holiday season. My husband and I just reached the halfway point on our first deployment, which feels like a major accomplishment. We’ve made it through birthdays and our anniversary with the help of family and friends and Skype (and lots of chocolate)! But now we face what is normally a season of warmth, joy, and togetherness with great anxiety. Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and I can’t say I’ve been feeling incredibly thankful. The circumstances of life have been difficult, and most days I wake up just wanting to go back to bed rather than getting up and facing what today has in store. Gratitude has not been the posture of my heart because my eyes have been so focused on the difficulties I’m facing.
Many families spend Thanksgiving counting blessings and writing them on construction paper feathers and making a big thankful turkey to hang on the wall. We think of all the things that make life full and grasp them in our hands so they don’t slip through our fingers. We live and re-live joy as it has manifested itself in our hearts. As military wives, we desperately need this. We need to stop and look for the life-giving joy. In this way, Thanksgiving can be a helpful time for us to remember that life is more than the military, the distance, and the war.
The problem is that sometimes at Thanksgiving we make a list of all the good things in our lives and we stop there. We acknowledge that there is good in our lives and we feel happy about it. Then we take down the construction paper turkey and put it in the box with Thanksgiving décor to hibernate until next year, which is not truly an act of giving thanks. If all we do is make a list of good things, we’ve just glorified the gift and ignored the giver. We haven’t given any thanks to anyone. We’re worshiping the good things and not our Great God. It’s hollow, and the “feeling” of thankfulness disappears with the last piece of pumpkin pie.
In his book The Explicit Gospel, Matt Chandler talks about the purpose of God’s good gifts to us: to glorify Himself. God’s ultimate goal is to be glorified in the earth. True worship and thanksgiving goes beyond making a list of good things to developing a lifestyle where our hearts are constantly bowed in gratitude to Him who gives all good things. Chandler writes, “[Worship] is the way of life for those entranced by and passionate for the glory of God. We worship God when, while we partake of his good gifts, something occurs in the deepest parts of our soul that forbids glory terminating on the gift itself or on our enjoyment of it but that runs deeper into and extends out to the Giver.” (Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel)
The question at Thanksgiving, then, is this: Are we women who are passionate about the glory of God? Are we more entranced by God’s glory than we are by our circumstances? It’s a great thing to stop and make a list of the blessings that God gives to us. We should be partaking in His gifts and meditating on them. The Bible tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (James 3:17, NIV) EVERY good gift. Every single moment of grace and joy is from God. He crafted those moments for you, so that you might experience who He is and give Him glory for it. So after we make the list and remember the gifts, we have to act. We have to thank Him. We have to give Him the glory He deserves for it. And when we do, it increases our knowledge of Him. We experience His grace. We fall more in love with who He is.
This is deep thanksgiving and heartfelt gratitude. Giving God glory for the gifts He gives us and developing a worshipful heart will last far beyond the holiday season. The joy He gives us in worshipping Him is enough to carry us through each day even through the difficulties that military families face during the holiday season. For the wife whose soldier is deployed, for the one whose husband’s reintegration has not been easy, for the one whose family was PCS’d far from family and friends, for the one whose holiday just isn’t the same since her husband is experiencing PTSD or other combat trauma- God is still for you, sister. Ask Him to remind you of the gifts He has given you. And when He does, give Him glory for all He’s done. The joy He gives us when we worship Him will not fade when Thanksgiving is over. He will sustain you. His glory shines brighter than the darkness.