Grace, Goodness and Thanksgiving

“How have you seen God’s grace in your life?”

It was the question posed to about 80 of us in a Sunday morning classroom.

Without much thought, the guy to my left started talking about how thankful he was that he had such a great family and a beautiful home to share life in. The talk around the table kept going this way, people swapping stories about their families, their friends, their jobs, their abundance that pointed to the evidence of God’s grace overflowing in their lives.

I was glad they were thankful. I am thankful too.

As I type this, I’m drinking a hot cup of coffee with the world’s fastest technology sitting on my lap. The smell of turkey and celery is wafting through the house and my eyes are flickering between the Macy’s Day parade and my kids lying on their bellies giggling over a game of Sorry. In a few hours, a portion of my family will sit around mounds of food expressing gratitude for the goodness in their lives.

I’ll soak in every moment.

But the question posed around the table that Sunday lingers in my mind along with the answers that made me squirm then like they make me squirm now. See, the question was asked about God’s grace and we answered by the good stuff in our lives.

I can’t help but think of people who are missing the good stuff. Whose houses aren’t warm and whose families aren’t loving, whose jobs aren’t plentiful and whose lives aren’t overflowing with much of anything, let alone anything abundant. I can’t help but think of two families who have suffered devastating losses this week, the kinds of losses that you have to block out of your mind when you look at your own children or spouse or parents because you can’t imagine what the pain would feel like if it was your own.

I wonder how they’d testify to the evidence of God’s grace in their lives. I’m certain they wouldn’t carry on about their good stuff.

It reminds me not to either.

It reminds me that my response to such questions shouldn’t be based on anything I have or don’t have but the innate goodness of a creator who, regardless of circumstance, is good. Who, by definition, is Grace.

Easy for me to say as I sit in my abundance, but I sit with the humble awareness that there will come a Thanksgiving when being thankful will be a stretch. I hope I’ll remember the words of Job, a man who knew the heights of success and the depths of loss in every sense of the word:

And he said,”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Blessed be his Name indeed.

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