Now why would I be thankful for that?

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012

By Jake McCall

Each year at Thanksgiving my grandmother would call on each of us to list the three things that we were most thankful for over the past year. That would usually lead me to name my latest bike, or a gun, or a baseball glove. As I recall, my family members would answer in a similar fashion – mentioning different blessings such as gifts received or their being thankful for their children or spouses.

It was a good exercise in giving thanks yet it was a generally a small time of thanksgiving that came and went. We all devoured an unseen and unhealthy amount of food and then moved on.

This year I hope you will join me in giving thanks in a different manner. Consider some things that got taken away this year. What are some events in your life that caused pain and tears?

Here’s a simple truth that we don’t like to learn, or at least I know I don’t like to learn it: The more conveniences we gain and the more things that we receive, don’t really bring us closer to the Lord. Our successes in life and smooth times throughout the year very well may generate empty praise and thanksgiving, but it never runs very deep.

It is the times of hardship, pain and deep want that bring us to a place of dependence on God. Listen to this verse and make an effort not to just scan over it, but try to read it as if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it: 1 Peter 4:13 says, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

This is telling us that great thanksgiving should come when we have times of suffering, and it’s in those very times that we become united with Christ and share in who He is. Now I know that seems, as a Clanton friend said just recently, “just bass ackwards!”, but I believe that is where true thanksgiving and true union with Christ begins.

In the spirit of this holiday, I invite you to join me and look back over your year and remember the times that brought you to a place of true difficulty and thank Christ. He alone is our hope. He alone is our treasure. Happy Thanksgiving!

–Jake McCall is pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian and a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser.