The November holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States offers us a time to reflect on the grace of God in our lives. This series will focus on the fact that gratitude is the rock of our faith; if we lose gratitude, we lose our way.
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GOD HAS MY BACK
Many families use the time around the Thanksgiving table to have everyone share one thing for which they are thankful. Young children usually offer: “food,” a warm house,” “clothes,” or “friends.” Adults often move beyond the basics and offer thanks for “employment,” “children or grandchildren,” my health,” or “my church family.” Although this ritual should probably remain a part of our Thanksgiving celebration, I have often felt the desire to “go deeper” in exploring the basis for my gratitude – on Thanksgiving Day and beyond.
Recently I was reading an interview with Daniel Craig, the actor who has played James Bond in the most recent Bond movies. When asked if there is anything he admires about 007, Craig said that he doesn’t judge him anyway because he is complicated and has issues. He then said, “I hope there is a hero out there watching everybody’s backs. It would be nice to think there is someone out there looking after us.”
Since we are all complicated and have issues, we all need “someone out there looking after us.” The faith to believe that God is that someone is what I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving. I cannot think of anything material that could make a bigger difference in our lives. Knowing God cares and is looking out for them is often what gets people through incredible difficulties and allows them to be thankful – even when their home has burned to the ground, the floods have carried a way everything they own, a dear family member has died, or they face a difficult diagnosis.
For too many years, I thought that this type of belief in God must arise from a certain feeling or emotion. I now believe that it is a choice (enabled by the Holy Spirit) that I have to make. I am choosing to believe that God “has my back” and that I am not alone in my daily struggles, large or small. What a difference such a belief can make in a person’s attitude and ability to cope.
I’m not sure how well I can explain all of this around the Thanksgiving table, but it is worth trying. I’m hoping my children and grandchildren also understand (and decide to believe that God is, and always will be, there looking after them. Just a few weeks after Thanksgiving, we’ll be celebrating the ultimate way God provided for us. May a grateful spirit carry us to Christmas – and stay with us through the new year ahead