What are we most thankful for? It’s easy to be thankful to God when he has clearly answered our prayers. There’s no feeling quite like praising God in the best of times. But what about that times where we’re desperate for an answer, really crying out that we’d rather be somewhere else, that God would break right into our lives and tell the suffering we’re fighting through that enough is enough; there is no room for despair in this house! What about in those times? Do we give thanks for the struggle? Do we give thanks for the fact that God has made the promise that he will never abandon us, that he will never leave us orphaned and without his sometimes tender and sometimes earth shatteringly powerful help? Do we rejoice only when the promise seems fulfilled?
Or do we give thanks that the promise has been made in the first place?
It struck me today, my last day of this summer Spanish immersion adventure here in Mexico, that I’ve been having trouble giving thanks, really, joyfully giving thanks to God while I’ve been down here. Yes, I’ve been so thankful for little things here and there; great big astoundingly beautiful churches and much needed catch-up conversations with dear friends and much-missed family.
But honestly, I’ve been holding back.
I’ve been waiting until I get home to be truly thankful. Like, well God, you got me through that, so now I’m ready to give you thanks. I just felt him tugging at my heart today, wondering why I’ve been waiting. Why have I been waiting until I’m sure the promise is fulfilled before I am truly, fully thankful? Am I lacking in trust? Do I need to control this relationship between me and God? Why isn’t the promise enough?
Let’s wake up and realize how amazing it is that our God makes promises to us, that he welcomes us into his very life and has been telling us our whole lives that he will not abandon us. He’ll even hang on that cross right there with us! Our God is not like those pagan impersonators that were the Roman and Greek gods, making promises and breaking promises and bored out of there minds with humans and with each other. And better yet, our God is far from that watchmaker God of the deists and new agers: some magical force that has no personal relationship with us; who just set the watch and lets it tick itself to eternity.
Nope, the fact that our God makes promises should pretty much be enough for us to give thanks. We have to admit that at times these promises may not turn out quite to our own plans. But can we ignore that the promises are made, that our God wants to enter into an intimate encounter of trust with us? And this feast of the Assumption is a perfect reminder that our God desires to give us everything that he is. He has made our Blessed Mother into that promise. We look to her, and we see who we are to God and who he promises that we will be. Her life was filled with sorrows, but her life now is nothing but that promise. That promise of God sharing everything he has with us. Mary is that promise to us!
And no matter where we are or how much we don’t want to be there, that’s a promise we can be thankful for.