It’s that day. THE DAY when we make our obligatory list of “Things I’m Thankful For” and prepare to present it in front of family and friends around the Thanksgiving table. We all know how the list goes: air, family, friends, health, job, home, football, pumpkin pie (in whatever order is preferable to you), etc., etc. All great things to be thankful for and generally worth mentioning.
I’ve been meditating on the “what are you thankful for question” a bit more this year, though, because I feel like saying, “Duh” when all those general gifts are mentioned. OF COURSE I’m thankful for my family and children, the blessings we have in the form of good health and a job and home and all the extraneous things that make my life what it is. I try to daily live my life as a woman who is aware of my many, many blessings and who regularly tells God “thank you” for them.
But, why? Why do I try to live in this mindset (or, really, HEARTset)? What is it that I am truly the most thankful for that allows me to be a person of thanksgiving, of praise, with a grateful heart?
Faith is the gift that I am most thankful for. Because, faith is a gift from God that, if it is truly accepted and cultivated will be the place in our minds and hearts from which springs forth all the goodness and purpose in our lives.
By faith, I know and experience the generosity of God.
If I were missing faith in my life, I wouldn’t be aware that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (Jms. 1:17) All the good things that I have been blessed with from my spouse and children to our home with food on the table to the frustrating job that my husband has to the joys and struggles, good days and bad, every single bit of it is a “good gift” given to me from above – IF I choose to see all of it as good and all of it as a gift.
Faith helps me to see that God is always and unfailingly generous towards all of us and that we are called not only to be in a perpetual state of thanksgiving, but that we are also called to return that generosity to others in whatever ways we can.
By faith, I have the capacity to love.
Faith continually shows me that “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.” (1Jn. 4:8-10)
God loves me and He loves you, personally. Individually. In a way that is perfect to our needs. We can only know and accept that love if we pray to have the faith to do so. And, once we allow that love to take root in us, we know no other reality. Knowing that I am loved so deeply and completely allows me to be able to love others, whether they be my closest family members or strangers I meet in the store or those suffering on the other side of the world. Being loved shows me how to love and gives me the ability to love, too.
By faith, I know I am forgiven.
Perhaps the greatest truth that the gift of faith gives to me is that Christ came and died for our sins and rose from the dead in order to allow us direct access to the mercy of the Father. We are able to be reunited to Him no matter how many times we mess up. We have the hope of an eternity spent with God in heaven. Faith teaches us that our Father will never, ever fail in mercy if only we ask Him for it. Mercy is an incredible gift, but a gift we can only recognize and accept through the eyes of faith.
So, yes, I am thankful for all the standard things that are on the Thanksgiving Day lists. I’m incredibly grateful for all those things, in fact. But, I am grateful for them not in terms of the “face value” of them, but because of how I accept them, understand them, in the context of my faith. And, for that gift, the ultimate blessing of my faith, I am the most thankful.
O God, of Whose mercies there is no number,
and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite;
we render thanks to Your most gracious majesty
for the gifts You have bestowed upon us,
evermore beseeching Your clemency,
that as You grant the petitions of them that ask You,
You will never forsake them,
but will prepare for the reward to come.
Through Christ our Lord.