The Wednesday morning before folks eat turkey and pie and browse the black Friday flyers, I wake up to this smothering of fog and this teen muttering it through the kitchen: “Whatever.”
And what do you do but say that’s not quite the way to start off the day, and he shrugs his shoulders and slams the bathroom door behind him, and I get it.
It’s there on the mantle, this framed God-thunder, “Give Thanks.”
It’s no neon sign, more this painting in a quaint Shaker-style. There’s only two remaining Shakers now. I think about that.
Think about whether they’re still giving thanks and if this whole pilgrim thanksgiving thing, this whole holiday she-bang, isn’t a bit of quaint antiquated denial in a world that’s right busted and hemorraghing a mess straight out the side.
Because on Tuesday there’s angry airwaves about a whole world of division, there’s headlines about school-aged children being killed and bombs falling and heated politics and polarized, frustrated Facebook streams and I sat with a mother who stood over a hole in the earth, and watched as they laid her son in soil and they just buried her baby in dirt and expected her to walk away.
I’m looking this mama in the eye and I want to claw the damp, clammy earth open with my very fingernails and who cares how many days Jesus stayed away from Bethany after Lazarus died — why does He not come here, here, and resurrect our cold joy?
Who doesn’t watch the news and howl?
Who doesn’t breathe through wounds and grieve for what was or dreamed and isn’t?
How do you sit around a table and bow your head in thanks when parts of this world and bits of you are somewhere busted and broken?
And I peel squash and there is God and there is all the debates and pain and news everywhere and yada, yada, yada.
Yadah, it’s Hebrew, and it literally means to hold out the hand in four ways. I guess there is yeah, yadah, yadah, yadah — so many ways to hold out our hands these days in the midst of all kinds of brokenness?
1. yadah means to bemoan with this wringing of hands.
2. yadah means to revere with an extending of hands.
3. yadah means to upturn hands to confess.
4. Yadah means to raise hands to give thanks.
Yadah — the whisper of Psalms 92:1:
“It is a good thing to [yada] — give thanks — and sing praises to unto thy name, O most High.”
It is a good thing to yada around the holiday tables: in the midst of the wringing of hands, to extend the hand.
It is a good thing to yada around the holiday tables: hold out the hand — in the midst of arguing hands, to hold a hand in praise to God.
It is a good thing to yada around the holiday tables: in the midst of rising voices, to raise a hand and give thanks — to brazenly confess that God is deeply good though the world is desperately not.
And you can hear it now, at the cusp of the feasting, the yada, yada, yada, that sings relentless and bold:
We won’t stop confessing He is good and we won’t stop thanking Him for grace and we won’t stop holding out our hands — and taking His hand.
We won’t stop believing that “God is good” is not some trite quip for the good days but a radical defiant cry for the terrible days.
That “God is good” is not a stale one-liner when all’s happy but a saving lifeline when all’s hard.
And we will keep giving thanks, yada, yada, yada, because giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God.
I’m holding the squash in hand. That’s what the mother had said standing there in her tsunami of grief:
“I believe God is good. I believe that is all there really is.”
And every time I give thanks, I confess to the universe the goodness of God. I had touched her hand.
She had said it, her eyes so clear, like you could see straight into her, into all that remains.
The morning fog ebbs across harvested fields.
Thanksgiving in all things –accepts the deep mystery of God through everything.
We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of Who He Is.
No amount of regret changes the past, no amount of anxiety changes the future, but any amount of gratitude changes the present.
In the stressful times, seek God.
In the painful times, praise God.
In the terrible times, trust God.
And at all time, at all times, at all times — Thank God.
There will be bowed heads around all the tables.
There will be lights flickering brave to burn back the black, and there will be a believing in relentless redemption and a reaching out and all these hands reaching around and out through the brokenness and there will be yada, yada, yada all around the holiday tables, this steady confessing of the goodness of God — of thanking Him come whatever brokenness.
There are leaves fallen frosted across the lawn.
There’s a way that bravely shimmers on ….
Pick up our story of The Broken Way, the sister book, the other half of the heart of One Thousand Gifts, and how to love in hard places. This one’s for all of us who have felt our hearts break a bit…
The one’s for the brave and the busted and the real and dreamers and the sufferers and the believers.