Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
“Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High. He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me.”
-Psalm 50:14,23 NASB
With this blog going live on Thanksgiving day, it was a no-brainer that it was going to be about thankfulness, but there is so much one can say about the subject! I don't even know where to begin. So I will take you back three and a half years ago to a knock on my door.
It was a Friday afternoon and that evening my youngest daughter was graduating from Pre-K with all the pomp and circumstance of a high school graduation. I found her the cutest little dress and pair of patent leather heels and our family was planning on making the forty-five-minute drive to celebrate with us. With all the coming excitement, I was grateful for a few moments of quiet I could find that afternoon. At that time my husband and I were cleaning a house every other Friday and this day we had finished up early. I was sitting on my couch studying out references to the Kingdom of God in the gospels when that fateful knock reverberated through our house.
I quickly popped up and looked out the peephole and standing on our porch were two police officers. Confused I opened the door and they asked to speak to my husband. Out he came and the tidy life that I believed I was living began to unravel. See my husband was struggling with an addiction but I was under the belief that he was months clean and doing very well. The money in our bank account was no longer disappearing and he wasn't going through the use and withdraw cycle that I had become so accustomed to. I believed it was over, that we were finally free, so much so that when the police officer asked him to come along to the station to look at a video I thought they must want him to help them identify someone in it. It never even dawned on me it could be anything else. I was blissfully unaware.
So away they went with the promise of returning him in time for the graduation ceremony that evening. Just in time to get ready, he sulks in the house with a very different look on his face. He proceeded to tell me that for months he had been stealing prescription medication from the house that we were cleaning. They had placed a camera in their house and caught him red-handed. He was going to be tried for theft.
All of the air left the room at the moment and I could feel the very tangible pain of my heart breaking. I had been bragging for months about how well he was doing, telling everyone that it was finally over, that he finally surrendered, that Jesus had finally won and now here I was foolish and betrayed. I had no other choice but to go and get our daughter into her cute little dress and her patent leather heels and I did my best to hide my puffy, red eyes and off we went to go and pretend like our lives weren't falling apart.
I got through the evening with relatively little difficulty, it was a night about my daughter and I wasn't going to let the decisions of her father steal something precious from her. But when we came home all of the strength that I had to hold it together was exhausted. My husband went to a twelve-step meeting and I crumpled onto our bed and sobbed into the pillow.
Then I heard God speak. “Worship me.” He said. To which I replied, “No! No, I don't want to worship you! Can't you see that I'm hurting right now, can't you see that my world has shattered again into a million pieces? Don't you care?” But again He spoke, “Worship me.”
So reluctantly I grabbed my cellphone and opened up my music app and put on the first song that came up, it was “Weep With Me” by Rend Collective (in case you've never heard you can check it out here). The song opens like this:
Weep with me. Lord, will You weep with me? I don't need answers, all I need is to know that You care for me. Hear my plea. Are You even listening? Lord, I will wrestle with Your heart but I won't let You go. You know I believe. Help my unbelief. Yet I will praise You. Yet I will sing of Your name. Here in the shadows, here I will offer my praise. What's true in the light is still true in the dark. You're good and You're kind and You care for this heart. Lord, I believe You weep with me.
Well needless to say this wrecked me even more. I had never felt so seen, so known than I did at that moment. Following “Weep With Me” played “Counting Every Blessing” also by Rend Collective and while I was attempting to choke out the chorus God told me I needed to count my blessings. To which I again responded with, “No. I'm hurting God!” Though sometimes I appear to forget it, I have learned that there is little point in telling God “no”. So I got out a notebook and began begrudgingly writing down every blessing I could think of, all the while focusing on what I did not have (a sober husband) rather than what I did.
I have a bed. I have a bedroom. I have a car. I have a house. I have food. I have healthy children...
On and on and on my list went as I began to fervently fill up the pages of that notebook. Somewhere along the line, my focus shifted from what I was lacking, and instead I truly began to see what I still had. Then my list progressed from material things to spiritual ones.
I had grace, mercy, forgiveness, transformation, a future, hope. Hope. I had hope! I had hope because I had Jesus. Whether my husband was sober or whether he was not didn't change that fact! That, my friends, is what I think of when I think of a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
I know that story was long, but I felt it important to tell. Two weeks ago I wrote about how we have to bind our sacrifice to the altar in A Violent Pursuit. This is the same premise. God is worthy! He is worthy whether or not everything is going right. In fact, He is worthy even when everything is going wrong. He is worthy when we hurt, when we question, when we don't know how we are going to go on. He is worthy of our praise, our adoration, our thankfulness. He is worthy because our situations don't change His character.
So this Thanksgiving, regardless of how you feel, regardless of how things look, take time to shift your gaze from what you are lacking, from the prayers that have yet to be answered. Instead, seek after the face of the One who is worthy of all your praise. This Thanksgiving let’s give our thanks where thanks are due and let’s watch environments shift in worship and praise to the One who is worthy of it all!
Written by Amanda Strauser