by: Jeff Poppinga
How thankful am I? How deep is my gratitude? As Thanksgiving rushes upon me, I ponder the depth of my gratitude and the sincerity of my thankfulness. How much could God take away without me grumbling and complaining? Is my gratitude based upon temporary or eternal possessions? Is my gratitude toward God deep enough to handle the losses and difficulties of life?
As I pondered these questions and others I was reminded of a passage in Habakkuk (of all places). Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet with a book named after him found in the Bible between the books of Nahum and Zephaniah. Habakkuk means “strong embrace” reminding us that God has a loving grip on His people and that His people are to cling to Him. He lived during a difficult time; a time I would describe as certain uncertainty and at the end of his book says,
"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places." (Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)
As Thanksgiving is nearly upon us we must contemplate the depth of our thankfulness. Could we say along with Habakkuk “yet I will rejoice (be thankful) in the Lord” even if our livelihood and thus lifestyle were severely altered? Notice that Habakkuk’s joy was found in the God of his salvation. Habakkuk’s joy is found in God, not in the gifts of God. Our gratitude will quickly turn to grumbling if our joy is only in God’s presents rather than in God’s presence. We must be reminded that he who has God lacks nothing and he who has everything but lacks God really has nothing.
When we are asked this Thanksgiving what we are thankful for, may we be able to say God’s presence with us and not just His presents to us. Whether in good times or bad let us with Habakkuk say hallelujah (praise the Lord)! Thanks be to God!