Thanksgiving is the Impossibility of Self-Sufficiency (2016)

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November 23, 2016 by J. Truett Glen

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This is a repost from 2013 that I have edited and added to. The sentiment remains the same today. Our lives still stem from the same source of goodness.

“I am thankful.” This isn’t just a fleeting expression to be made on a day or two during the calendar year. This phrase is representative of our very being. My name is gratitude. The essence of my life is wrapped up in the generosity of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s God’s will for us in Jesus because it is the only appropriate response that the created can give to a good creator. It is the only appropriate response that the redeemed can give to the redeemer. It is the only appropriate response that the saved can give to the savior. I am grateful that I have lived my whole life in a nation that has an official day of expressing communal gratitude.

Please do not let it go unnoticed that we celebrate the heritage of indigenous peoples showing charity to, and sharing wisdom with, the Pilgrims, who were among the first European settlers of this continent. We are all in a vulnerable condition in this life, and in need of grace. This reminds me of Emmanuel Levinas’s statement, “suffering is the impossibility of nothingness.” I respond to Levinas that thanksgiving and gratitude are the impossibility of a human’s self-sufficiency. They are a testimony of our continual need, and a picture of our soul.

I am thankful. The Lord has blessed my family and me greatly. There is no doubt that suffering has taught us to thank God and that we have learned to thank God in suffering. We continue to learn that all things are a gift. All things are a means to grow closer to the Other who gave us life. Thank you Father. Thank you for love, companionship, camaraderie, brotherhood, intimacy, shelter, turkey, rain, laughter, trees, leaves, color, smell, sight, pets, friends, family, daughters, Dr. Pepper, pipe smoking, good books, wood fireplaces, sushi, panang curry, and countless other little things. Thank you for College Station, Ft. Worth, Wake Forest, Chattanooga, Dayton, and Lynchburg. Thank you for trials, pain, hardships, suffering, and challenges that have drawn us near to you, and have helped refine me to look more like you. All good things are of God, and I am thankful for all of them. I’ve got some issues with melted cheese, but I’m slowly working through those ☺.

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