This Thanksgiving, in keeping with family tradition, to grandmother’s house we’ll go. We’ll go over the river and over the woods and over some more rivers and likely through some traffic once we land in Denver. We’ll have plenty of horsepower but no actual horses involved.
While we’re there, as many people do, at some point we might share a bit about what we’re thankful for this holiday season. We’ll probably name some of the obvious and predictable but heartfelt gifts–our families, our health, the ways in which God has provided for our needs. A few of us may mention challenging circumstances we have made our way through over the last year. But it’s unlikely we’ll talk about things we haven’t seen and don’t have.
Yet the truth is, some of the best of what we will ever receive is ours in promise only. As forgiven people, we are blessed beyond measure, even as we live under the limited reign of curse. As people rescued by grace, we are citizens of a kingdom where we do not yet live. As adopted children of God, we are co-heirs to an eternal fortune of pure, unadulterated, unsullied life.
As in nearly every area of life, when it comes to expressing gratitude, we find it so much easier to focus on what we can see, hear, and hold in our hands. It’s easy to assume being thankful means focusing only on what we have received and enjoyed. But “faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1). And when thanksgiving meets faith, gratitude extends to the “not yet” territory of the Christian life.
Thanksgiving to God means more than acknowledging where we have been and what has crossed the path of our awareness. It also means being grateful for what we cannot see, have not received, and long for. It means thanking God for what he will do along with what he has done. It means acknowledging God is good when we feel bad and remembering he never stops working wonders in the world, regardless of how limited our vision may be. It means the best part of gratitude is the better half of anticipation.
This Thanksgiving, try to hold both gratitude and longing in your heart and in your prayers. And please know that I am thankful for all my readers.
One last thing: If you’re looking for a great gift for someone who lives in honest longing, consider stuffing a stocking with my book Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World.
© 2018 Amy Simpson.