Weekly Reflections for November 14, 2021

Giving Thanks for Simple Gifts

The month of November provides an interesting opportunity to reflect on our understanding of, and our relationship to, both God and his creation.

We live in what is objectively the most prosperous time and place in the history of the world.  Elementary school students carry around more computing power than the richest man in the world could conceive of a half-century ago.  World travel is commonplace, and communication is nearly instantaneous.  Access to entertainment is on-demand, and we expect our online purchases to be at our door in two days or less.

But what is our attitude towards all these blessings?  Is it anger and frustration that it’s too little, that we deserve more and better and cheaper and faster?  Or do we leave room for gratitude in our hearts and lives?

As I reflect on this, sometimes it seems that because I have so much, I’ve lost my ability to feel God’s presence in it all.  If we can’t be thankful for sunsets, for the golds and reds of autumn, for the taste of cold water on a hot day… if we take these for granted, then perhaps it’s not surprising that our attitude towards the bigger, flashier, noisier things is more expectation than gratefulness.

We often refer to creation as “God’s gift”; but if we really believe that, then what does that mean?  Are gifts earned, something we deserve?  Do we look at the things we have:  our homes and possessions, our friends and family, our experiences, our talents, our faith; do we look at those things with a sense of presumption, that God owes us and that we are doing Him a favor when we give back a small portion of what we have received? Or do we fall on our knees in humble awe at all that we have been granted?

An old country song began with the lyrics

Why me, Lord? What have I ever done

to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known?

Perhaps during this month of Thanksgiving, we can spend some quiet time in the presence of Jesus to reflect on those questions, to consider all that God has given us:  certainly the big things, but also all the little things, the very breath of life itself, that we have been granted us out of God’s infinite love.  And perhaps, in Christ’s presence, we can choose how we will respond to these blessings, and maybe even how we can find His blessings during those times es that seem empty and dark and difficult.  – Bill Merlock