Lately I’ve been watching fall football with my husband and no doubt around this time every year, commercials with luxurious cars driving through snowy mountains stir something inside me.
A little girl with bright big eyes peers out her window and sees all the twinkling lights. Santa is coming. Snow is falling. And she and her perfect family are savoring the season driving in the car of their dreams. I begin to feel like that little girl too.
A new Lexus sounds pretty good at the end of the year wrapped in a giant red bow. I may even feel like I “need” a new 2019 Range Rover fully loaded with leather seats and a sunroof that extends to the backseats.
Marketing geniuses know how to tap into our longings for “more.” They’ve done their homework. They give us all the “feels” and stir our senses for what’s beautiful, nostalgic, functional, and trendy making us think we’ll be happier.
We know the truth though. No material possession can fully satisfy our longings. In 2030, the 2019 cars will be old. There will always be newer, better, and more technologically advanced toys by then.
A Life of Thanks
As I think about gratitude this Thanksgiving (instead of Christmas and pretty cars!), I’m trying not to look so hard at what I don’t have and instead think deeply on all I’ve been given. Because this is the heart of God. This is what he desires for my life- to be content with what he’s already given me.
To live in such a way that my life spills over with Thanksgiving every day there’s breath in my lungs – not just on Thursday when we gather around the table with our loved ones.
But the truth is, it’s hard to give thanks when life hurts. In suffering, I can give thanks to you God? In loneliness I can thank you? In an unexpected diagnosis I can praise you? In conflict? Hurt and pain? When someone wounds me with their words? Even in confusion and times of chaos? Even when I believe something has been taken from me?
Take a look at what Jesus did in the Upper Room with his disciples:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 22:26-28).
Accepting God’s Will
Jesus Messiah. God of the Universe- not far from being betrayed and murdered on the cross, gave thanks to his father in heaven. He knew the cup of God’s wrath would be poured out upon him and it would be a bitter one.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would even fall with his face to the ground praying and asking God to take the cup from him (Luke 22:39). He knew the agony, excruciating pain, and torture he’d experience dying a criminal’s shameful and violent death, yet he humbly accepted God’s will as his son.
“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
He knew the weight of the world’s sins would crush him, yet he chose to praise God. He knew the story wasn’t over- a greater purpose and plan was unfolding.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
And he didn’t just give thanks with his lips, he displayed it by giving up his life.
His body was broken for you… in thanksgiving.
His blood was shed for you… in thanksgiving.
And he did so willingly to save you. He took on the punishment that we deserved.
There’s no greater love than this.
He is our ultimate example of one who chose to thank God and accept his will in the midst of deep anguish and suffering. He knew the joy that was set before him- our precious gift of salvation that we could never earn on our own.
He knew it would get better and three days later he would rise, and the gravestone would be rolled away- conquering death once and for all. And because of his accomplished work on the cross, we can choose gratitude too.
Your Story Isn’t Over
No matter what you’re facing this Thanksgiving, you have great hope that these temporary trials and afflictions won’t last forever. And until you meet Jesus face to face and enter the gates of heaven, you can continually ask for his strength in your deepest pains and hurts.
Until that glorious day where he’ll make all things new with no more tears, death, suffering, or sin – you can thank him here and now and trust his love for you personally- proven to you on that costly, rugged, redeeming cross.
His death has brought you life. And what you see here and now isn’t the end of your story, either.
Recommended resources: One Thousand Gifts book and devotional by author and farmer’s wife Ann Voskamp – www.onethousandgifts.com
** This article first appeared on TheCourage.com
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. She writes regularly for Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage.com, Her View From Home, and For the Family. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.