Gratitude for cookies

This week, the girls decided to start their own baking business.  They were inspired by a new 11-year old friend, who also is baking her way to the bank.  I have had to set aside control of my kitchen, handing over my favorite room in the house with tightened and gripped fingers.  I have been amazed at how trusting them with the kitchen has lead to greater responsibility and maturity in them.  The kitchen has been covered in sugar, flour, and raw egg–no doubt!  But, the girls have washed, swept, and scrubbed to return it back to the condition in which they found it.  And the cookies are good… 🙂

This week of Thanksgiving break has forced me to ponder gratitude and thankfulness, as I guess it does with most folks every year.  I look back at the past year and see how unthankful I have been.  I see how worried I have been.  I see how absent the lenses of thankfulness have been from my world view and the view of my personal circumstances.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Man! Really?  Always?  Continually?  In ALL circumstances??  Really?

Really.  Some might call this kind of person an optimist–someone who, unlike the realist, always sees the glass half full.  How, in a world with so many unsettling diseases, unstable people, and unbelievable disfunction can we possibly be told to be an optimist?

God’s will for us is to be people who are able to see the glass half full.  His desire for us is that we see through the frames of gratitude the things to be thankful for in the midst of even the least ideal of circumstances.  Some might ask: “How can I be thankful when my body is being destroyed by a raging cancer?”  “How can I be thankful when I’ve lost my job and can’t provide for my family?”  “How can I be thankful when my spouse has been unfaithful?” “How can I be thankful when the world is full of failing governments, dying people, and starving children?”  God’s will is not for us to be blissfully ignorant in these circumstances.  He does not want us to ignore them either. He gives us good things to which we can cling and a hope in a better tomorrow.  He gives us the strength to see the things of this world and offer a help and a hope.

Only in Christ Jesus do we see something to be thankful for in light of poverty, hunger, and genocide.  It is only in Christ, that we are able to find the light in a dark, dark world.  It is only because of God’s will for me in Christ Jesus that I have a hope to be freed from all of it.  God’s plan in sending His Son to this wretched earth was to set me free from all wretchedness.  He conquered death on the cross to set me free from all the death and destruction around me today.  If I don’t believe this, I don’t have reason to be thankful in the worst of circumstances.  Because let’s be honest:  there is a lot of hurt and sorrow and pain in this world.

I am reminded of a song by All Sons and Daughters.  Here are the lyrics:

When the pieces seem to shatter
To gather off the floor
And all that seems to matter
Is that I don’t feel you anymore
No I don’t feel you anymore
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
I need a reason to sing
When I’m overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I’m afraid I might let go
I’m afraid I might let go
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
I need a reason to sing
Will there be a victory
Will You sing it over me now
Your peace is the melody
You sing it over me now
Oh Lord
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
That is a reason to sing

Thankfulness is not easy.  Gratitude does not come without a conscience decision, even for the Christian.  Reminding ourselves of what we know to be truth–the pursuit that our loving God has for us, the plan of His redemption for this world, the faithfulness of His provision and sovereignty, and the promise of His return.  We need to be reminded that He has the whole world in His hands.

Because I DO believe that Jesus was born of a virgin (which is crazy) and I DO believe that He grew up and performed miraculous signs and wonders (which is weird) and I DO believe that He died on a cross only to come back to life in three days (which is insane)–I also believe that there is a future hope and a day when He will come again and make all things new.  (It takes faith in that which the world sees as foolishness.)  I have hope in His return.  I also have hope in His promises.  I have hope in His character.  I have hope in His love.  I have hope in a God who is relational and living and isn’t just a mythical creature locked in the words of a book on a shelf.  He is ALIVE.  He is breathing.  He is moving.  He is working to bring the whole world to a knowledge of Him.  His will is to know me and love me and serve me.  His will is know, love, and serve the hurting, the weak, and the tired.  His work in me and His compassion channeled through my heart gives me opportunity to also be a ray of light in this dark, dark world.

So, I can “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  (Romans 12:12)  I can trust the God I believe in.  He gives me the power to be thankful in all circumstances, because of the hope He sets before me in Jesus.  I can turn over all worries and concerns for the future in prayer to Him.  I can hand over the kitchen.  I can trust His responsible maturity.  I can look forward to sweet things to come out of it.

I sing a little song to Judah every time he goes to sleep for a nap or for the night.  Today as I sang it to him, I thought about the words and applied them to my need for gratitude.  They speak truth into my worry about the future.  It’s an old hymn that my first grade teacher made us sing every morning in school:

I am Jesus’ little lamb,
Ever glad at heart I am;
For my Shepherd gently guides me,
Knows my need, and well provides me,
Loves me every day the same,
Even calls me by my name.

Day by day, at home, away,
Jesus is my Staff and Stay.
When I hunger, Jesus feeds me,
Into pleasant pastures leads me;
When I thirst, He bids me go
Where the quiet waters flow.

Who so happy as I am,
Even now the Shepherd’s lamb?
And when my short life is ended,
By His angel host attended,
He shall fold me to His breast,
There within His arms to rest.

It’s simple truth found in this song that reminds me to be thankful.  I am forever grateful for a teacher who embedded those words into my mind and heart.  I can be a happy, care-free little lamb, when I acknowledge the presence of my Good Shepherd.

The reality is that I have much to be thankful for.  I have a God who provides for me daily and calls me by name.  I have a family that loves me and cares for me.  I have a faithful husband who loves Jesus and seeks to show me how much Jesus loves me through the ways that he cares for me.   I have four children in whom I delight and find much joy.  I have had the opportunity to set aside everything to be with them and undergo “family rehab.”  I have girls who now love to bake and clean.

I have a  warm house.  I have a refrigerator full of food.  I have clean water.  I have too many clothes, too many shoes…too many cookies.

I have a community around me that seeks to love and serve each other.  They love Jesus and live in His grace.  They share that grace with me and the rest of the body.   My family at The Well understands trusting Jesus and His mercies.  They don’t work for His love–they rest in it.  They get it.  They understand having a future hope.  They understand thankfulness in all circumstances.

I have much to be thankful for.  I have much to rejoice about.  I have genuine gratitude that my God has given me new life in Him.  I have freedom.  I have grace.  I have forgiveness.  I have hope.  I have cookies.

1 Comment

  1. Recently I have not been able to be out and about because of this knee replacement. So Sunday morning I watched Joel Olsteen on TV. He talked about wearing your crown of faith, receiving God’s favor, and acknowledging God’s goodness. We have countless advantages when we wear our crown of faith. So Olsteen’s summarizing thought was thanksgiving for God’s favors.
    Just like you, I have so many favors to be giving thanks for.
    Thank you for sharing all your blogs with me!

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