This has been such an unusual year. A year of pain and loss. Our family hasn’t suffered nearly as much as many other families we know; still, we’ve experienced grief. And grief makes an occasion like Thanksgiving more challenging. I appreciated yesterday’s Thanksgiving Eve remarks by President-Elect Joe Biden addressing these dynamics, drawing from his own experiences with the loss of a beloved family member:
“I remember that first Thanksgiving, the empty chair, the silence — [it] takes your breath away. It’s really hard to care. It’s hard to give thanks. It’s hard to even think of looking forward, it’s so hard to hope.”
Psalm 118 speaks candidly of experiencing distress while simultaneously choosing to give thanks. The middle part of the Psalm might be summed up by verse 13: “My enemies did their best to kill me, but the Lord rescued me.” The human experience is hard. But there’s a bigger picture that’s encapsulated in the first verse and the last verse of Psalm 118:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
I totally relate to Biden’s sentiment that “It’s really hard to care. Hard to give thanks.” But I find hope when I keep trying to point my heart in that direction, anyway. Psalm 118 prefigures Jesus as the ultimate embodiment of God’s rescue.
I’m thankful for the Gospel. The Bible makes it clear that our world is even more messed up than we may realize. Our own hearts are even more corrupt than we ever dare to admit to others, or even ourselves. But at the same time, God’s goodness is even bigger and more eternal than we ever imagine it to be. His forgiveness and grace to us is far more extravagant than we realize. He is ready to welcome us into His family and include us in His eternal kingdom. And that’s plenty of reason to give thanks.