By Anthony Casperson
In less than a week, those of us in America will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It’s a time of food, family, and fun. For some.
For others, it’s a reminder of loss, depression, and wishing you were anywhere else. Familial disputes repeated for the millionth time. People wearing plastic smiles until they can finally escape. That one family member that hates anyone who doesn’t agree with their ridiculous viewpoint. And that’s nothing to say about the horrors of traveling which many undergo for the displeasure of it all.
But undoubtedly, a moment will come when someone just has to ask the question: “What are you thankful for?” And it’ll be a chore to devise some way to put a positive spin on meager offerings.
Those of us who suffer extended periods of depression might really want to say that we can’t think of something to be thankful for. It’s not that we’re ungrateful for many small things. Or that we think no one else has every had it worse than we do. Rather, it’s that all of the difficulties we deal with on a daily basis crowd out the good from our mental picture.
But if we say anything like what we’re really feeling—because the holiday question of thankfulness expects a pithy response, instead of a truthful outpouring of our hearts—we’re counted among the thankless jerks who can’t just take part in a “simple” yearly exercise.
And if we’re unlucky enough to encounter someone who wants to push the point, they’ll say something like, “Well, you’re alive. That’s something to be happy about.” To which—in my own darkest moments—I’ve actually occasionally responded, “That’s not necessarily true.”
Darkness aside, I want to take the time here to remind us of one thing that we followers of Jesus can all be thankful for. Something that is 100% true, regardless of how we’re feeling in the moment. And maybe this truth can push enough of the difficulties in our lives out of our mental picture that there’s at least some good to be found in it.
It might sound trite, but when we think about it, the truth is that the Creator of all things chose us to be in relationship with him.
Despite all of the junk. Despite all of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Despite all of the abuse forced onto us by others. Our past mistakes don’t negate his choice. And even our doubts can’t keep this fact from being true.
God chose us before the foundation of the world, according to Ephesians 1:4. It’s like when God was planning out the entirety of time and space, he pointed us and said, “I’m going to do everything I can to help that person to choose me in the same way that I’ve chosen them.”
It wasn’t a big salvation net that God cast out, hoping that the catch would be a good haul. No, God moved for each one of us followers of Jesus in a personal way. He handpicked each individual. And pushed the circumstances of our lives in such a way that we’d join him in this choice of relationship.
Many of us feel unworthy of anyone’s desires. But despite every excuse that we could offer as reasons for our rejection, God still chose us.
“He chose me.”
Regardless of the doubts and questions. Regardless of those moments of unfaithfulness. Regardless of how long we ran away from his offer of relationship. He chose us.
This godly relationship has many aspects. And not every part of it is sunshine, butterflies, and rainbows. As a matter of fact, those “happy” times might be few and far between. But even that doesn’t negate the fact of God’s choice of us. It is 100% true that God chose we who follow Jesus before the foundation of the world.
And for those reading these words who don’t currently have a relationship with God—who haven’t bowed before the cross of Jesus—that doesn’t mean that God hasn’t chosen you too. This blog might just be one of those pushes to help you accept his true love that seeks your holiness and blamelessness before him.
No matter how long we’ve been in that relationship, we who follow Jesus have something true to be thankful for. Let his choice be in our mental picture of life as we think about how to answer this year’s question.