Thanksgiving comes but once a year, yet I desire to cultivate a thankful heart the whole year through. It’s not easy. I came down with a whopper of a cold over Thanksgiving break. My tendency is to whine and moan between the fits of coughing. I’ve heard somewhere that it helps to thank God for the bad, as well as the good. But I heard even better advice today. Thank God for his goodness and grace.
This evening I watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The transformation of the Grinch’s heart speaks to me of the transforming grace of Christ. The episode opens with the townspeople singing: “Welcome Christmas”
To welcome Christmas. . . that is what I’d like to do over the next few weeks. Will you join me?
It takes conscious effort to move from grousing to rejoicing. I know this from personal experience. Even this morning, I almost gave in to wallowing in self-pity. “Woe is me, I have a cold.” My plight is not unusual; probably the majority of us will have a cold this winter, as it is called the “common” cold.
Part of my complaint was common; I don’t have time to be sick. I got things to do: cleaning, studying, buying, decorating and apparently now—resting. I chafe against rest. If had pushed myself today, I wouldn’t have had time to reflect on the devastating effects of grumbling. I would have missed out on practicing the art of giving thanks on all occasions. So maybe I didn’t thank God for my cold, but I did thank Him for his goodness in reminding me that rest is an important part of life.
Usually I pick a devotional book that has daily readings for the Advent season. This year I picked up a book, I read earlier this year. It’s called God’s Love Letters to You: A 40-Day Devotional Experience written by Dr. Larry Crabb. Each day focuses on a different book in the Bible. Today was Genesis—a very good place to start—the beginning. Written from the first person perspective of God, the subtitle for today’s reading warms my heart: I Have a Plan: Trust Me. The devotion raises the question of why doesn’t God immediately relieve our pain. It didn’t answer the question, but gave me space to contemplate it. The last sentence offers food for thought: “You must live now in the tension between anguish and hope.” Again, I found no direct answer, but something to mull over. How can I live in this tension? Will I trust God’s plan?
My expectation after Thanksgiving was to gear up for the end of the semester at the highest speed possible, but my health has slowed me down. After a day of resting in God’s presence, reading books and ruminating on God’s words— I give thanks for His grace for this day.
I am ready to welcome Christmas at a pace that embraces the goodness of God.