There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Psalm 46: 4-6
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter . . .
Yeah, so it’s that kind of holiday. Sitting in Starbucks with my headphones on rocking out to praise music and blogging as fast as my fingers will fly across this hot pink keyboard (of course hot pink! Did you expect anything else?), a woman interrupts me to hand me a flyer.
Two kids, a boy and a girl, age 14 and 13, are missing. I set the flyer down on the table next to my coffee cup and I remember Sunday in church raising hands and praying for Ella.
I was a little older, but I remember my holiday flying far from home, far from warm. And, now as a parent, I have known a holiday so empty we couldn’t face the Thanksgiving table.
Before those years of holidays consumed by lack, I had known nothing but abundance. I had given thanks, standing and hands raised, and I had meant it. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
But this week? from this vantage point? I can’t even write Thanksgiving without the tears cracking my face. Because I have known lack, and my heart feels lack, and my table will have three empty places Thursday night that won’t be filled this side of heaven.
And yet, even as my heart still aches with those losses, my tears flood more as I reflect upon the gains we’ve made, the way God has kept giving. There is a chair that will be filled that shouldn’t be: a three year old bounce of defiance that just keeps kicking! Our family that was broken into pieces and now gathers together as brothers and sisters. . . plus the addition of two more this year!!!! We welcome a new sister wearing a shiny new diamond on her hand and a brand new baby girl and we know Dad would be so happy to see all of these girls around our Thanksgiving table, and to know his grandsons–the Rainbow and the Miracle–that came after our hearts were broken.
And we know through our broken hearts, God keeps beating. And we are thankful, THANKFUL that darkness cannot consume us. We sing praise to a God who is in our midst. And as one era topples, and another is birthed, as one family crumbles and an entirely new one is transfigured, WE PRAISE THE LORD.
This Thanksgiving, sing to a God who runs in the midst of your people, who shines light on every trouble and dysfunction and loss and lack. Praise the God who has this. In Him alone may you find refuge.
Thanksgiving always precedes the Miracle. Ann Voskamp
Live the miracle that runs through our cities, our families, our broken hearts. Set your eyes upon the one who holds your world in His hands. Say out loud with me right now: “I praise You Lord, and I trust you with _________________. I give you thanks because I know you’re working miracles in my life and in my family and you can do ANYTHING.” You can even heal this broken heart, these scarred hands, this exhaustion. You are working it all out for my good, and you are making all the ugly and broken and dead things new.
You are making me new.
There, friends: there it is. Thanksgiving. Praise the Lord.
Here’s that soundtrack again from Monday if you need help getting in the mood to praise him through your circumstance (I do every day):
God bless you all this Thanksgiving!