The table is set. The candles flicker their warm light, the smell of baking turkey fills the house. The plates line the table, forks, spoons. Décor with red and orange leaves are at the center. Laughter and the sound of conversation wafts through the air. There are sounds of spoons and clinking forks touching the china. The gifts we have been given abound, and the table is ready for us to give thanks. But what about the space in our hearts? Let’s be real today: are we really ready to exhale, and thank the loving hand of God?
Can I give thanks?
I feel the weight of the question in my chest. Because to be honest, I’m not sure that I’m ready.
I don’t think I’m alone here. There are times we can feel choked by our circumstances. I know it, sweet girl – I know what it’s like to have your feet in a season where you’re sifting through heavy questions. I know what it feels like when your chest literally hurts from the heaviness.
When I was a little girl, one afternoon, I fell off the swing in my backyard. I hit the hard ground on my left side with a thud – and I remember the feeling of having my breath knocked right out of me. I laid there on the earth for what felt like an eternity, as my mom and grandma ran toward me – and for a second I wondered if the breath would ever come back into my lungs. There are seasons we walk around with this feeling. We have to navigate hard space in relationships. Our jobs feel suddenly insecure. Our health threatens or worries us.
The truth is, facing a future that’s uncertain and having suffering isn’t just a probability – it’s a guarantee. And every hard space we walk through will demand all of our faith. All ground becomes is holy ground. We can meet God there and choose to worry, or we can thank.
It seems so complicated – but the choice is actually simple: worry, or thank. Right now. Breathe worry or breathe thanks.
It’s God who shows us the path away from worry:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
When we talk to God and give him thanks, despite the worries and uncertainties – it’s peace that comes in like a river. When we thank him anyway, He gives us peace.
The challenge in any moment is to stay fully here with God. Because the here and now is the only space we meet Him. God’s peace can fill any atmosphere. The promise of his presence now, is the promise of his peace now. And here I can practice the one thing that can be hardest to practice. Breathing.
I inhale thanks.
And exhale peace.
Today, as we sit at the table – His table – we can take a moment to breathe and remember who He is. He is our very present God. Our help and shield. Our portion. Our hope. Our joy. Our strength. Our Savior. The one who loved us from the beginning of the world and even unto death. It’s because of who He is, that we remember who we are:
“For in Him we live and move and have our being…we are His offspring.”
Our very being – down to our very breath – was given to us by the loving hand of God. The fact that our eyelids opened this morning, the fact that our blood is pumping through our veins, the fact that our heart hurts and it loves – are all reminders of this one and precious gift. We are alive.
Life! The gift of now. It’s a gift we can thank him for every day.
In any moment. And in every moment.
We can choose to stop being controlled by the things we can’t control. Because the God who controls the galaxies, who put the stars in place, who breathed life into you and into me, who sustains us with His hand – is available to meet you now. Here.
When we go to Him, we realize that we don’t need to control, or to understand.
We can breathe through it. We can “be still and know that [He is] God.” (Psalm 46:10)
And we can thank Him.
I see the thing that I miss constantly – His greatest gift is always found now. His presence is the gift. The presence that walks with us and goes before us – is here with us right now at the table.
The lights flicker, and I see it. All the gifts, and all the grace. They always come rushing in when He does.
His love comes down again, and I know this is true: no matter what happens that threatens to take my breath away, there will always be enough breath in my lungs to say these two words:
I say them today not because I have to. I say them because they flow right out of a heart that’s come alive by Him and His grace.
At the table of thanksgiving, my heart burns brightly again. You can burn brightly again. Just breathe. And thank Him.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:34
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”
Photo Credit: my sweet friend and Delight blog writer Erin Westermeyer!