This is my absolute favorite time of year - the colors, the chill in the air (yes, sorry, the AZ girl LOVES the chill), the anticipation ... so much about fall becoming winter that makes my heart smile. And my heart rejoice. And my spirit wonder.
I LOVE that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas. Giving thanks before the Gift ... how many lessons we can learn from that. How many times have we lived it? We learn of a coming baby and we give thanks - long before we ever HOLD or SEE the baby we praise Him. Long before we breathe in that sweet baby breath we exalt Him for the life. Long before we get to lay finger on that soft flesh, we have planned out a life full of Him. Long before the gift, we offer thanks.
And, oh, when that baby comes - healthy and strong - we SURELY praise Him then! Or when we get the promotion, when we feel His protection, when we feel Him near ... we can thank Him then. Of course we can. It's easy, in these and other such instances, to give thanks for what we take from His hand and even for the not yet received. But that is not always the case. What about when life is hard? What about when life does NOT come? How do we give thanks THEN? Do we even try? We know we should ... but how?
When we receive a diagnosis, even the worst kind, we are called to praise Him ... but how?
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26
When we lose our income and the bills pile up, we are called to give thanks ... but how?
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12
When we feel alone and small we are called to exalt Him ... but how?
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
When life is just stupid and hard and painful and disappointing and ... just ... blech, we are called to be thankful. Yes, even then ... but HOW?!
...Be still, and know that I am God... Psalm 46:10
When we face something which scares the life out of us, we are called to press on in faith and thanksgiving ... but how?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 NIV
(the Message translation puts it this way: God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!)
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. Psalm 18:32
And THAT is the key... not our strength, but HIS.
Not our provision, but HIS.
Not our promise ... oh, our promises are so futile ... but His.
Not our love, but His.
Not our life, but His.
We can give thanks when life is beginning. And all through the mucky middle. And even when it is ending ... because, in HIM, it IS just beginning. And, just like that brand new baby, a new life is reason for praise.
Especially life in HIM.