Thanks. Giving thanks. Giving thanks to God. For what?
I’ve been thinking about the what lately. What am I thankful for, really? Well, I could list a thousand things like colored leaves and blue skies and health and horses and actually, I do make a practice of counting my blessings. But I’ve been thinking bigger lately, because I need to think bigger than these beautiful blessings.
Because when your back is up against a wall you know you can’t climb—when the mountain peak seems impossible to reach—when the waters are rising and you know you can’t swim—what are you thankful for then? Suddenly, colored leaves and blue skies and health and horses seem a bit trivial.
People tell me in the midst of our family struggles which have worn us thin lately that we need to count our blessings. Focus on the positive.
Why do we give such advice? To help the other feel better? To help ourselves feel better? Is it all about feelings, really?
And what if we don’t FEEL better, then what? Are we not grateful enough? Are we not good enough Christians? Brings me back to my question. For what do we give thanks? And why do we give thanks? What is our motive?
I wonder if sometimes we give thanks like a formula. Like a formula given to a baby screaming for comfort, for gut-filling satisfaction, do we speak or write thanks to feel better? Just give thanks and you’ll be happy. Is that the underlying mantra-desire, unconscious though it might be? Do we try to increase one side of the equation in order to get what we want on the other side of the equation? I wonder. Do we demand that our thanks giving produce feeling results? If so, we’re missing the point.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to give thanks for things because surely our God is great and generous and gifts us wildly. But what’s the Greatest Gift? What’s the Great Desire of our hearts? Happiness? Joy? Blessing? Removal of pain and suffering?
Or God Himself?
What if happiness and joy and blessing are elusive at some point in our lives? Then what?
Is God still worthy of thanks giving for who He is and not what I can gain?
But I can’t help but gain when I give thanks first for who He is, because something miraculous occurs every single time. I am transformed. I am transported above and beyond my circumstances, painful though they may be—or happy though they may be. Circumstances are distractions, turning eyes and hearts away from who He is. And happiness can distract us from God even more than pain.
Stripped bare. That’s what I need.
Even when life circumstances aren’t stripping us bare, I want to practice stripping bare of all that distracts me from loving God first for who He is. When we love God more for the blessings He gives than for who He is, we are being ushered into idol worship—loving and seeking the blessing more than the One who blesses—loving and seeking the miracle more than the Miracle Worker.
So this morning, I want to be stripped bare of every distraction, of every temptation that causes my heart to wander away from the greatest gift every given—Jesus. I want to saturate myself in His presence and seek nothing and no one else. Because when I do—every time I do—I come away cleansed of all that tries to attach itself to my soul, sucking me dry, leaving me only half-alive.
Today, I give thanks for Jesus—nothing more because there is no more—nothing less because everything less leaves me wanting more. And when who He is becomes the first thanks in heart, mind, and soul—we may not give thanks for all things, but we will certainly give thanks in all things because we will realize this truth—He is all we really need and all we truly ever wanted.
My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him. Psalm 62:1