December 15, 2017

Five Days of Thanksgiving (2)

A quiet disposition and a heart giving thanks is the real test of the extent to which we love and trust God at that moment.

True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer

• • •

Today, we continue our five days of thanksgiving by asking God to quiet our hearts and enable us to give thanks for our family relationships.

This is hard for many people. There is a reason movies often use Thanksgiving as a setting for their stories. This is when families are together, providing an opportunity for filmmakers to explore the conflicts between family members, generations, etc. Nor does the Bible shy away from telling us the truth about our families. The first book in the Bible, which traces the development of the chosen family of Abraham, is filled with the stuff of drama and conflict. A lot of it is not pretty. And that’s just the beginning of the story. Family “stuff” keeps getting more complicated and convoluted the more you read through the Scriptures.

So, “giving thanks” may not come easy as we think about those closest to us.

Nevertheless, despite what the world, the flesh, and the devil have done to the family (with the full and willing cooperation of each one of us), it is nevertheless clear that God had a pretty good idea when he created man and woman, brought them together, blessed them and said, “May you be fruitful and multiply.” Amid the mess, there is one of life’s greatest treasures.

And so, we thank the Lord…

  • for our family heritage, and those who passed on not only their genes, but also their stories and wisdom to us,
  • for our elders who are still present to provide perspective for our lives,
  • for our parents, out of whose love we gained life,
  • for our brothers and sisters, with whom we learned to live life,
  • for our extended family members, some of whom we know well and others who may still be strangers to us — and yet we bear a common name and heritage,
  • for our children, who bear our image, for whom we dream and long and pray that their lives may be blessed and established in God’s love and truth,
  • for our grandchildren, the gifts of our older years,
  • for adopted children, and the families that have welcomed them,
  • for family members who have had challenging and sometimes sad journeys through life, and the opportunities you have given us to serve them,
  • for family members who have gone before us into God’s presence, who we miss and continually commit to God’s care,
  • for the way God has been our Shepherd and our Refuge in every generation and will remain faithful until we all are gathered home at last.

In the midst of our thanks, Lord, we would remember those for whom the word “family” brings pain. We pray for those who dwell in unhappy homes, whose marriages have broken, who have suffered various forms of abuse, for children who have been neglected and unloved, for couples who long for children to nurture and yet cannot conceive, for those who must deal with physical, psychological, or social brokenness every day, for young people who cannot find their way, for adults tempted to go astray and abandon their family duties, for the widows and orphans, for those whose cupboards are bare and prospects dim, for those who homes know little of love, joy, and peace, but only anger and conflict.

We, who are members of your forever family ask that you would show us how to minister to the hurting in these precious households.

Father, from whom every household in heaven and on earth derives its name, we lift our thanks and prayers to you. Amen.

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
      with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
      may I never forget the good things he does for me.
…The Lord is like a father to his children,
      tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
 For he knows how weak we are;
      he remembers we are only dust.

– from Psalm 103, NLT

Comments

  1. Thankfulness requires a dose of humility. It acknowledges the kind and magnanimous action of the giver, to our benefit. It draws us out of ourselves and places the focus on the giver. God takes great pleasure in a genuinely thankful heart. Thankfulness dispels bitterness. Thankfulness establishes equilibrium. Thankfulness makes things sunny. Thank you. You’re very kind. You didn’t have to do that. I appreciate it so much. You’ve really made my day. Thanks again! That was very thoughtful. You’re the best…..
    That stuff is universal. There is just nothing bad to say about it. It fits all the time.

  2. Thank you! So glad we are part of the family of God!

  3. Are we all too busy to share our thankfullness? I personally feel the grace of God when I hear of how He is working in other’s lives (not the Happy-Happy “see what I have overcome” sharing, but the “things sure suck but here is how God is working and I thought I’d share it….) JMHO.

    Where are you, I-Monks?

  4. One more Mike says:

    I’m of the group that “..for whom the word “family” brings pain….whos homes know little of love, joy, and peace, but only anger and conflict.” I’m thankful this year that my financial situation has me working this thanksgiving, so we won’t be able to travel to see family. Thanksgiving for us is always an opportunity for a group of judgemental, bitter people to compare how bad their lives are and not forgive each other for an entire lifetimes “wrongs”. I was born into and married into families that are “blessed” with people who don’t care about anyone else’s feelings, and look for any reason to be offended. My families can, and have, ruined funerals with their need to offend, be offended and get the last word. And there is nothing you can say, do, or demonstrate that will move them one millimeter off their positions. They have nothing to be thankful for and will get angry at you for suggesting otherwise. Oh, and they are ALL devoted practicing evangelicals. Of course, they’d be like this if they were Buddhists, but I thought I’d keep the conversation lively.

    Thank God for early “Black Friday” start times, and for this:

    http://www.mbird.com/2011/11/robert-downey-jr-mel-gibson-and-the-idiot-forgiveness-of-god/

  5. Wonderful post Chaplin Mike. I won’t go into details but to say it was right on time for me personally.

    I say my Thank You to God for you and my thanks to you for all the hard work you do to “get us all thinking” and to allow us to discuss issues with one another.