There’s a down side to public expressions of thanksgiving.
It’s one thing to privately thank our God for what he gives us individually. It’s also only right that we would publicly, within the appropriate circle, thank him for what we share together. As we saw in our last conversation, acting as if we are entitled to all of the goodness we receive may be a sign that we we’ve been spoiled by unacknowledged mercies (Rom 1:21; Luke 12:12-19).
But there can also be something especially burdensome about thanking God for what he has done for us personally. Down through the years I’ve seen this happen through public expressions of gratefulness around the holiday Americans celebrate today.
Someone thanks God for restored health in the presence of others who are losing ground to a chronic illness. Another stands up to happily express gratefulness to God for the birth of a baby in the presence of those who desperately want a child doctors say they can’t have. The examples are as endless as the inequalities that test our faith and love for one another. Employment/unemployment. Relationships reconciled and broken. Homes bought and lost. Mental health/mental illness. Justice/injustice in court. Joy expressed for sons and daughters returning from war, healthy in body, or troubled in soul, in the presence of those who grieve the loss of their own.
Once again, isn’t this reason to remember that only in Christ can we find perspectives of faith, love, and thanksgiving that are big enough to more than compensate for all of inequalities that we live out in the presence of our God and one another?
Yes, Job said in the presence of his loss, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD..” A little later he also said something like “Shall we accept good from the Lord and not trouble?” (Job 1:20-21; 2:10). Let’s just remember, though, that in the days that followed he just about lost his mind in the presence of friends who acted and spoke as if Job had done something that resulted in his suffering while they sat in their self-righteousness.
Seems that we have reason to think of the hurting one who will overhear what we thank our God for today.