I am entering Thanksgiving with a heart that is in a different place than usual. It seems like this holiday is coming right in the middle of a time where there is much sadness among those in my circle. The weight of losing loved ones, marriages hurting or broken, the ravages of cancer, financial insecurity, addiction, loneliness, hunger – all these are heavy on my heart. Lately, if I am filled with gratitude after an amazing day, I sometimes wonder why I am allowed to experience such joy, when I know that many I love are experiencing such pain. Some folks in my community inspire me with the way they find something to be thankful for even in the midst of a dark season. One friend shared, “I am especially grateful that some days only happen once.”

My husband Scott and I have had many conversations about the uncomfortable lyrics in a new song we introduced at Highlands Church North Denver this fall, “I’ll give thanks to God, when I don’t have enough, cause He’s more than enough, and He knows what I need.” Maybe I don’t have enough time, health, patience, forgiveness, rest, money, hope, etc. When I’m feeling like I don’t have enough and I desire to receive God’s goodness, my prayer posture is lifting my hands palms up – like holding a bowl that is empty. When we come to God with an empty bowl, maybe we can give thanks because we trust that God is able to fill it. Maybe we can give thanks because God knows us so well that God already knows that the bowl is empty, and knows how it needs to be filled. Maybe we can give thanks because we remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past – loving us and taking care of us when we were empty. Maybe we can give thanks because we realize that the emptiness is actually just what we needed.

Giving thanks even when we are empty takes practice. Today, me and many people in my circle will be practicing this very thing. I want to let my spirit rejoice, and at the same time lift up my hurting community in prayer.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 [NRSV]

This Thanksgiving, even in the midst of the complicated history of this celebration and in the middle of the sadness all around me, I want to stay grounded by recognizing the blessings all around me, and trusting the faithful love of God.”

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
~ 1 Chronicles 16:34 [NRSV]

Would you join me today or tomorrow in taking a few minutes to reflect by listening to this song and offering up your thanks to God?