When it comes to seasonal decorating, Martha Stewart’s got nothing on my mom. Every holiday season as a child, I could count on fresh colors, decorations, and scents to accompany the next big celebration. And as my siblings and I grew up, mom added our school crafts to her own décor for immersive seasonal changes. Thanksgiving was no exception, from pilgrim cut-outs and woven cornucopias to pumpkin candles and laminated turkey placemats.
In addition to decorations, we could always count on certain family traditions with each holiday. Before enjoying our Thanksgiving meal, each member of our family, as well as the relatives and guests at our table, would read a Scripture passage about thankfulness and then share what they were thankful for.
In that same spirit, I’d like to share a less common verse about thanksgiving and reflect on my current thankfulness.
After talking about the treasure of gospel ministry in the power of God’s Spirit residing in our frail, “jars of clay” bodies, the apostle Paul writes, “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
Notice how thanksgiving increases as grace extends more and more. There is no doubt in my mind that 2020 marks a year when I have drunk from God’s well of grace more than any previous year in my life. Without God’s grace, how could any of us survive?
As a father of six kids, parents often joke with me that they couldn’t handle any more than the two or three kids they already have since they don’t “have what it takes.” I try to assure them that it’s not about the parent as much as God giving the proportionate grace needed for the kid-load he provides. We felt overwhelmed with one kid and six kids, and only as God supernaturally increased grace could we handle life’s increased pressures.
As the year of the pandemic trudges on, it is only by God’s grace that any of us continue to survive. Cutting off physical contact with family and friends, trying to assist our kids with new and complicated patterns of schooling, disruptive aspects to our jobs, companies, and industries, and the perpetual state of unknowns all require supernatural grace. And as the pressures increase, the need for grace grows.
In these verses, Paul links gospel spreading to increased thanksgiving, which ultimately leads to God getting more glory. I want to be part of this culmination. If the milk of God’s grace is the survival-beverage of choice for Christians this year, let’s make sure we thank the Source publicly, so He gets the credit and glory He deserves.
Instead of wiping our milk moustaches and going back to our pandemic activities, let’s tell people Who has been sustaining us and shout from the rooftops our source of life, joy, and peace. God gets glory when we drink from His grace and thank Him publicly for that gift.
As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for God’s grace showing up in precious and particular ways over the past six months. I want the world to know that God alone is good and kind and worth worshipping as sustainer of all.
One example is that during a family emergency this summer, several people in our family and at Friendship Church came to our side with gifts, meals, and help watching our kids when we needed it most. I felt the sustaining hug of God’s grace through these many thoughtful actions and thank God for them.
During this week of Thanksgiving, we are inviting Friendship families to give praise to this God of grace by joining us for a special virtual event called Praise, Pie and Gratitude on Wednesday, November 25, from 6:30 – 7:30pm on Friendship’s YouTube channel (youtube.com/friendshipmn).
This special evening of praise and worship with our campus pastors and worship team will help us give thanks and praise to our Heavenly Father as a church body, while celebrating with our families at home.