Over the years, I have seen how amazing thanksgiving can be in helping to smooth glitches in our human relationships. When things are a little tense or awkward, saying thank you to someone for something they have done, or for who they have been to you in your life, can do a lot to restore relationship.
This is true of children and parents, in both directions, it’s true in church between leaders and led or brothers and sisters. It’s true between husbands and wives, friends and family, colleagues and employers and employees. Looking for something you can thank the other person for and speaking that out, builds a bridge and enables us to communicate again more freely. Showing appreciation to someone else makes them feel honoured and valued and creates a closer connection to them.
Obviously this needs to be genuine, but even parents who feel they are having to constantly correct a child, and feel a wall growing between them, can find something to be grateful for, and, by expressing appreciation for that one thing, can lower that wall. It’s amazing.
It seems it is no different in our relationship with God. When we read about Jesus with Mary and Martha around the time of Lazarus death, Jesus appeared to be a frustrating, if not uncaring friend. We are told He deliberately delayed coming to them in answer to their request for help.
When He arrived, they obviously still loved Him and wanted Him there, but there is reproach and disappointment in their words and actions. Mary, the one who soaked up His words and was commended by Jesus for sitting at His feet and ‘choosing the good part’ (Luke 9:42) didn’t even come out to meet Him. It felt like they both rebuked Jesus with the words. ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died’ John 11 verses 21 and 32.
Jesus, however, had delayed out of love vs 4,5 and 6, because He had big plans for this moment in their lives, all three of them. He wept with Mary not because He was in grief Himself, but for the pain she was in. Pain that would perhaps have been a lot less had she been able to welcome Jesus in trust instead of in doubt.
As in our human relationships, when we don’t quite ‘get‘ what the Lord is up to, or indeed we feel abandoned or let down by Him, let us not withdraw like Mary did initially, or put up a wall between us and God with our why questions, but let us choose to welcome Him into our situation with thanksgiving and look expectantly to see what He’s up to. He won’t disappoint.
Again as in our human relationships we may not feel grateful for what is happening in the immediate, but we can thank Jesus, however bewildered we are feeling by our circumstances, that He loves us, died for us, and has redeemed us. In other words let’s turn in thanksgiving for the things we do know, thus helping ourselves not to put a barrier between us and God over the things we don’t know, and don’t understand about what He is doing.
We could even in those moments sing our thanks to Him in the words Darlene Zscherch penned:-
Thank you for the cross Lord. Thank you for the price you paid.
Bearing all my sin and shame, in love you came and gave amazing grace.
Thank you for this love Lord, thank you for the nail pierced hands.
Washed me in your cleansing flow, now all I know: your forgiveness and embrace.
I think He would love that, He loves to ‘hear our song in the night’ Job Chapter 35 vs10.