This is a season of reflection; particularly in terms of spiritual introspection and the breadth of gratitude for blessings of every conceivable sort. Acknowledging the common perception that this is a season of gratitude, we submit that much more needs to enter your realm of consideration. Genuine appreciation must be paired with faith and charity (love).
Without that crucial step in our walk, we are forever in the past and at best, the moment. But the girding required to face whatever lies ahead forces us into deeper analysis. Praise for storms we have already gone through speaks past tense. The complacency of birth means, health, mental stability and support systems are comfort to us in the here and now.
The most formidable test to our claims to salvation is the element that arms us for the unexpected; that indestructible assurance with which we face things we can neither predict nor influence. The first verse of the 11th chapter of Hebrews makes it plain. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Whether in households at tables with friends or family, or in graceful solitude, every man and woman has a measure of blessings for which to be grateful; even if it is only for the fact that they have survived the tumult of the past two years when so many others have perished, are recovering, lost loved ones, or recovered from critical illness or injury. The reasons for gratitude are abundant. Yet thanksgiving alone is not enough.
Every ordeal God brings us through is for a purpose, moving forward. We know that in God nothing is impossible because we have witnessed Him make a way out of no way. What good are lessons learned if they provide no armor for future battles.
The residual of such encounters with the power of the Lord must serve to strengthen our faith; to serve as consummate evidence of reason to believe in things unseen. We should embrace the spirit that, if God did it before, He will do it again. We should know by now that “…we walk by faith, not by sight.”
We shouldn’t need proof to believe God’s word is true. Imagine how you would feel if, no matter how much you did for your children, they were nervous and anxious and full of despair when depending on you during adversity.
Jesus Christ expects that same level of faith from us – not to question how, when, why, what or where but rather to know God’s promise is uncompromising.
He is not a man that He would lie. His word will be fulfilled. What greater comfort can a believer hope for than that, leaning on the omnipotence of the Almighty? In other words, don’t give thanks and then wallow in doubt the next time stormy seas rise against you. God never abandons us.
In addition to faith, which is a prerequisite to be saved, there is yet another element of thanksgiving necessary to please the Lord. That is charity, or love.
No matter how strong one’s faith may be, the greatest are those most willing to serve – those willing to embrace the ones Christ calls “the least of mine.” First Corinthians tells us that among faith, hope and charity (love), the greatest of these is love.
When we survey national consciousness to reveal self-righteous evangelicals and even less conspicuous self-called men and women of God who endorse or give tacit sanction to hatred, social injustice and inequity by their inaction or silence, we reveal a level of hypocrisy counter to the word of God and devoid of any tenets of love or charity. There are too many wolves in sheep’s clothing allowing inhumanities love would not permit.
The good news for the truly faithful is that God, indeed, knows your heart.
Even in times of expediency, avarice and the absence of moral turpitude, hold on to God’s unchanging hand. Be grateful but be obedient to what the Lord compels of followers in reaching out to others, particularly those less fortunate, and in rejecting any spirit of unfaith reaffirming that in God, all these are possible. Faith and love are keys to the kingdom.
Any sanctimonious declaration of thanksgiving rings of hollow bombast if not characterized by faith in the Lord and love for all people. These are prerequisite for meaningful praise and authentic expressions of gratitude. Let both be entered into your praise, worship, and prayer during this meaningful season.
From the heart, we wish you and your families a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].