Give thought to what you give thanks to

Today is Thanksgiving. But, for what are we to be thankful for? And to whom?

How should we view the “good” things and people that enter our lives? Are these just random occurrences, the alignment of circumstance that creates a pleasing outcome? What if those same factors in some other array create an unpleasant result? What exactly is it in such things that create meaning enough to pause and give thanks?

I often find it difficult to discern the difference between the simple operation of causality (action-reaction) in my daily life and the effect of God’s Grace. This distinction may seem esoteric, but it reflects my observation of the pervasiveness of incrementalism in the world. Things rarely “pop.” They just morph.

Most of life seems a trial and adversity. It is simply a path to pain and suffering. It is perhaps the rare occasion that things line up precisely and we see the special opportunity that so perfectly meshes with who we are. In that moment our true potential is unleashed, but that moment most often is fleeting. We are so flawed that our ability to create perfection is very limited.

Causality either has too many variables to consider or there are indeterminate factors we disregard because we cannot quantify them. We tend to dismiss that which we cannot understand. Because we can only be what we make of ourselves or that which current circumstance will allow, our incentive to try again wanes. Logic would tell us the risks of recurrent failure are too great.

This is the danger of believing only in the natural-rational world. It removes the possibility that some things are simply beyond our capacity to understand. It removes wonder and hope from our lives.

One of my guiding beliefs is that things will work out in the end. I suppose it is easy to say this, particularly after-the-fact. The adversity never seems quite so onerous as it did when you were facing down the barrel of a gun that threatened stability, livelihood, health or family. Yet, work out it does. Not necessarily the way we would wish, but always a door opens.

There is a greater plan at play.

I believe that only by putting to best use the gifts God gave us that we can be truly fulfilled. But, I also believe that only in the “trying” will those gifts truly be revealed. This means certain and frequent failure.

Perceived failure is often not what it would first seem to be. Truly, it can be the cause of anguish and despair, but it also sets the table for the next step. Our ability to comprehend this condition and to force ourselves to act is what defines character.

It was colloquially, but elegantly stated recently by Medal of Honor recipient, Sammy Davis, “You don’t lose ‘til you quit trying.”  This requires faith, that unquantifiable factor that levels the playing field. It is in this moment that Grace appears.

B.B Warfield stated, “Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.” Exactly!

When we have least earned prosperity or merit success, somehow it materializes. Perhaps, not to the magnitude we envisage or in the form we imagine, but arrive it does.

I must admit that I have truly been blessed. I want for little and although I have risked much and worked hard, God has blessed my life with bounty.

I am thankful for all of the glimpses of heaven that God allows in my life: friends, family and even the magnificent hues of an autumn sunset. Most of all, I am thankful for the Grace God has bestowed on such an undeserving soul.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and may God’s Grace reveal itself in your life as well.