I’m don’t always post what I’m thankful for during the month of November, but when I do, I WRITE ABOUT EVERY SINGLE AWESOME THING IN MY LIFE ALL AT ONCE.
So first of all, I’m thankful that I can be thankful. Does the very word “thankful” not imply that there is a greater power to which is owed mad props? I’ve got a loving husband, 3 beautiful children, friends, food, and shelter. These are blessings, straight from God. I know people that would call it sheer coincidental luck from the fairy dust of the universe. In my head I cannot imagine a bleaker existence than one without a Father in Heaven. And I could just cry for my friends who think they’re alone in the world.
I’m thankful for Jesus: Sure, there’s good in every person. There’s good in me. Even if I didn’t believe in anything at all, I’d still be kind and helpful and giving. BUT: I’m also painfully aware of my human weaknesses, and I’ve seen evil rear its ugly head in my own heart. It’s there; it exists, and I fight it everyday, and all the good deeds in the world wouldn’t be enough to cover it up. As humans we sin; sin separates us from God, and we’d never be fit to enter the gates of Heaven without the gift of His grace.
I’m thankful that God is fair and just. I’m thankful for a God who loves His children. I’m thankful that He knows us and He knows our hearts. I’m thankful for His capacity to love and forgive. I’m thankful that God sent Jesus to the world.
I deserve to rot for some of the things I’ve done. Cheyenne is 16 years old and for over half of her precious life I’ve totally dropped the ball as her mother. My husband and I have had more downs than ups in our marriage and most of them were caused by me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve disrespected my parents, who’ve done nothing but try to help me and love me through all of my trials and wanderings, or the number of people I’ve hurt while thinking only of myself.
I was sorry then and I’m still sorry now. And I could try for the rest of my life to make up for the mistakes I’ve made and the damage I’ve caused. When it comes time to pay the piper, I’ll have a hefty bill.
Enter Jesus–Jesus was God’s plan, God’s gift, to us. For Jesus to willingly enter this world as a human being, capable of feeling everything we feel including pain, hunger, and fatigue; misery and anger and sadness; joy, relief, and love. When I think of the way Jesus died, I think mainly of fear–fear of pain, fear of being tortured and hated. Fear of dying. I don’t know about you, but when I’m upset and afraid, I get nauseous. I imagine Jesus in the garden, a lump in His throat. Tears. Sweat. Hands shaking. Clammy skin. Headache. Agony. I picture Jesus, undeserving and scared, fervently praying and asking God if there was any other way.
He took the punishment that should have been ours.
And when He did, He was thinking of me.
He bought me back with His life. He paid the price. He died for me.
He died for my friend who struggles with alcohol the same way I do.
For my friend who was in a horrific motorcycle accident several months ago and has had to readjust and overcome so much since then.
For my friend who is the main caretaker to four grandchildren.
For my friend whose baby cannot eat without severe pain.
For my friend who cannot have a baby nor can she adopt because of health and financial issues.
For my friend whose husband suffers from PTSD.
For my friend whose husband wants a divorce.
For my friend whose husband regularly cheats on her.
For my friend whose husband walked away from her and her daughter.
For my friend who just got laid off after moving to a new state far away from family.
For my friend who just found out her mother has breast cancer.
For my friend who can’t make her body do what she tells it to do because of multiple sclerosis.
For my friend and his wife who fight an ongoing battle against drugs and alcohol–and anger, towards the world, towards each other, and towards themselves.
For my friend who is so frozen in fear that she cannot make choices or take action.
For my friend who cannot trust because she has been betrayed by everyone close to her at one point in time or another.
For my friend who doubts God’s existence because of the amount of pain, suffering, and pure evil in the world.
And for my friend who doubts God’s existence because she is proud and has never had to truly, truly suffer or sacrifice.
People, we don’t do good things to earn our way into Heaven. It would never work. We do good things because we are thankful. We do good things because God is faithful. We do good things because it is the least we can do.
It’s a little early for an Easter story, but we’ve all heard about the robbers hanging on 2 crosses on either side of Jesus. One of the robbers started dissing Jesus, but the other robber hushed him:
“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
This robber, who had lived a life of crime, did a 180-degree turn at the last-minute. It’s highly probable that he never did a single good thing in all his years on earth, but he realized something that many “good” people never do: he deserved to die, but Jesus was the only hope he had. This robber was face-to-face with God’s own son, and he knew it, and he acknowledged it. And make no mistake, if he had lived past his own crucifixion, he no doubt would have changed his ways and followed Jesus all the days of his life ever after that moment.
I’m thankful that we have hope. I’m thankful that we are able to show a fraction of our gratitude with obedience and praise. I’m thankful that we can experience forgiveness, and peace, and blessings. I’m thankful that we have a God who loves us even though we are not perfect.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.