I’m overwhelmed by how much I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. A few separate spiritual truths have combined to bring me to this point.
First, this Sunday, our pastor talked about how it’s God’s goodness rather than his discipline that is meant to bring us to repentance based on Romans 2:4, which says, Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (ESV)
For some reason, it seems like people generally see tragedy as God’s way of getting our attention. Maybe it is in some ways. I’ve definitely grown closer to God by going through some valleys. But considering tragedy and heartache as God’s main way of capturing our attention and bringing us to repentance paints a picture of an angry God who makes appearances once in a while in the tragedies that make the news and, in between, stands in the shadows, waiting to punish us again.
On the other hand, don’t most of us, over the course of our lifetimes, experience far more good than bad? It seems that overall, tragedy is news while everyday graces are so plentiful they’re taken for granted unless/until they’re taken away. Nature, family, homes, food, life, etc. If those everyday graces are meant to show us God’s goodness and our need for repentance, as this verse suggests, then he’s constantly present, lavishing blessings on us to get our attention. That’s a very different God from the one who is focused on punishing. This is a positive God who woos people to himself.
This fit well with what I then read in the book Desiring God by John Piper. He wrote in the first chapter about how God is happy. He does what he pleases, and though he is saddened by tragedy on an individual level, in the grand scheme of things, he is still happy, still in control, and still working all things to his glory. It’s in enjoying and praising him that we also find happiness because he’s happy, good, and perfect, even when life is not.
Combine that with what I read in Ecclesiastes, and you’ll see why I’m so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God. (2:24, ESV) Why I felt like I needed permission to enjoy my life, I don’t know, but there it is. Enjoy your life! It’s not meant to be a chore! Instead, the good in our lives should bring us closer to God and inspire us to sing his praises.
God is good to us. He’s happy. He wants us to be happy in him and in the lives he’s given us.
Sigh. So much happiness and goodness. So much to be thankful for!