It’s Thanksgiving Day, a time when we reflect on all of the things we’re grateful for. Like having the freedom to dangle prepositions because it’s my blog and not an academic paper. I could write about the typical problems with consumerism and how much we take for granted, but there are a thousand blogs out there like that by now. And I’m grateful for that, because my wretched heart needs to be reminded of that constantly. But there’s a deeper message that lies behind our being grateful, and a deeper reason why so many find gratitude difficult in this season.
I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Last year, I didn’t have a job I had any confidence in. This year, I do. Last year, I was living with my parents after losing a really good job. This year, I’m not (no offense, Mom). And, most importantly, last February my grandmother was scheduled to have an angioplasty, and she’s miraculously still with us. She was in a pre-heart attack state before the procedure, and had a left artery blocked 70%, one right artery blocked 95%, and one blocked 99%. We almost lost her. And she was originally supposed to have the procedure done at Medical City Dallas, but after a handful of my friends from my small group let me know they were praying, it was switched to Baylor Dallas. The doctor said that this one would have been a very easy procedure to screw up given the number of complications. So, when I say “miraculously,” it was literally nothing short of a miracle.
Yet, while I am exceedingly grateful and happy within my family, I can’t help but feel solemn for my church family. In the past three months alone we have experienced the suicide of our IT Admin, one of our productions leads went through his father taking his own life (who was a pastor in the Dallas areas for over 20 years), a good friend of mine was removed from ministry for hidden, unconfessed sin, and two of my other really good friends went through a divorce.
So, yes, for all of those things I mourn with them today. Because they are as much my family as anyone, because the blood of Christ is thicker than any familial blood. But we do not mourn without hope. We have hope in all these trials, not in spite of them, but in them, because of Advent. We have joy in this storm because of the God who gave up everything to add to Himself humanity so that He might defeat Death once and for all. Death does indeed have a temporary sting for those of us who remain behind, but for those who are in Christ, death has no eternal sting. And for this, I am truly thankful.