‘Tis the season to be thankful. Give thanks with grateful heart. Count your blessings. The things you love can’t be bought. Grateful ~ Thankful ~ Blessed. I could go on; there are plenty of catchy phrases that surround the holiday season. I’ve probably said a few. Maybe not grateful/thankful/blessed, but others. What do you think of when you think about being thankful or even blessed? Stuff, right? Sure, we add in people, too. “Thank you God for my home, fridge full of food, my family.” Stuff like that usually makes the list. No doubt, I’m thankful for all of it.
But, have I ever been thankful for what’s missing?
I typically thank God for what He has given me and my family. Truthfully, I’ve probably not thanked Him enough. I have more jeans and socks and boots than one girl needs. My kids have enough stuffed animals and Legos to share with all the kids in the neighborhood. And if we gave them all away I’m sure we would still find more to step on in the night or hiding under a bed. Call us thankful and #blessed.
But, have you ever been thankful for what you don’t have?
One of my children came home with a Christmas list asking for three X-Box games. We don’t own an X-box machine(?) console(?). Clearly, he is hoping the Santa gods work a miracle here by being thankful for what he does not have ahead of time. Prepare ye the way, oh Santa. Notice there is no request for world peace on this list. He wants everything. I have work to do.
I’m not sure I have ever be thankful for what I don’t have. Wait. Yes, I have. I have been thankful I don’t have as many snakes in my yard as when we first moved here. Sometimes, and I mean on the very rare occasion, when I have lost weight, I have been thankful I don’t have a few extra pounds. Right now, I am thankful I don’t have those delicious shortbread cookies sitting on my counter calling my name like the evil demons they are. However, this is probably the extent of things for which I am thankful I don’t have.
Jesus was thankful in the absence. It was Ann Voskamp in her book 1000 Gifts who showed me this in a verse I have read and heard over and again.
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.John 6:11
Jesus gave thanks.
You know this story: Jesus feeds the five thousand. Why have I never seen that Jesus gave thanks before there was actually enough for everyone there that day? Yet, Jesus gave thanks for what he did not have.
Have I ever given thanks for what I did not have?
This Christmas it is painfully obvious what I do not have here with me. I have never once considered thanking God for the loss. I’ve thanked God for hard circumstances and the way they worked out. I’ve thanked God for giving me time, even those days that were challenging. I’ve thanked God for giving us his Son so we could have a place to be with Him and those who believe someday. Granted, most of this was while banging a fist against a steering wheel through tears or silent screams.
But, I have never thanked God for what I did not have here right now but wanted so badly.
John 6:11 — Jesus gives thanks when it isn’t enough. He gives thanks for what is not there. He gives thanks anyway.
Is there something you don’t have, something you are missing, something that isn’t quite enough this Christmas that you need to be thankful for anyway?
This Christmas when things feel backwards, like something is missing, like I do not have what or who I need; I will give thanks in the absence. I will give thanks.
(Also, giving thanks for not so many snakes in my yard.)
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