On Thursday, many of us are going to be sitting around a table with family and friends. And before we dive face first into our golden brown turkey leg, yams covered in marshmallows, and a piece of pumpkin pie that looks more like a big pile of whipped cream, someone will ask this question: “What are you thankful for?” This has been a tradition in our house for a long time. My wife even made little construction paper cut-out leaves where we wrote down what we are thankful for and hung them as decorations. But Thanksgiving 2015 has one problem.
Our world is crazy!
And by crazy, I mean broken.
A Broken World
We are just a little over a week from the Paris bombings. At the same time, the Christian community here in Indianapolis was rocked when Amanda Blackburn was murdered in her home. And these are just the big stories. Paris was not the only terror attacks of the past few weeks. Other families have lost loved ones. And sometimes, the hardest things are not news stories at all. No one knows what pain you may be going through. The death of a loved one. The memory of past hurts. Your pile of bills you aren’t sure how to pay without going further into debt.
With all of this pain, can we really be thankful?
I mean, isn’t it a little bit of a joke to see tragedy happening all around us and then sit down to eat a nice meal and tell everyone that what we’re thankful for? And then, to add to the holiday craziness, we sit down and watch about 6 hours of football!
Are we simply putting our heads in the sand and blindly ignoring the world around us?
Can we really be thankful?
Is there any hope?
The Focus of Our Hope
Even in a broken world, there is hope. More specifically, there is Hope. Capital H.
Everyone is looking for hope, today. And for good reason! With all of the pain and brokenness, hope is about all we can hold on to. But not just any hope will do. You have to determine where the focus of your hope lies. That is the difference between those who have peace and those who are consumed with fear. If the focus of your hope is weak -the person or object you are looking to for help- then you will suffer. The quality of your focus equals the quality of your hope.
Is your hope found in political leaders? Governmental policies? In the strength of the military or the strength of the dollar? These are too weak for such a broken world. Placing our hope in men and women, systems and structures, only bring despair. We try to hope in these things, but it’s only temporary. Deep down, we know the problems of our world are too big for one person or one master plan.
True hope is not found in a new election.
True Hope is found in an almighty Savior.
We need Hope that is bigger than our problems
If we are to keep our sanity in a world that is crumbling around us, we have to find a better Hope. We need a Hope that is bigger than our problems. We don’t just need an emotional sense of hope. We need the Author of everlasting Hope. We need a Savior. We need Jesus.
My Hope is found in Jesus!
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33
Jesus is speaking in John 16. This comes during the last week before going to the cross. He is just a few days from being arrested, and He shares His heart with His disciples. He takes this opportunity to warn them of the brokenness of the world. He spent the last three years with them simply to bring them eternal peace! He warns them that they will experience trouble in this world. But what is His response to this trouble?
I have overcome the world. -Jesus
The focus of my Hope is Jesus. My Hope is real because I find it in the One that created the universe. I have placed my Hope in the One that has the power to heal the world and wipe away all tears! My Hope is found in a Savior that knows about the trouble we are facing, and He has overcome it!
Not future. It already happened!
He overcame trouble and persecution and pain and death and hell. Done deal. Signed, sealed, delivered. And yes, Stevie Wonder is now stuck in my head! Why? Because Hope in Jesus brings us Joy, even in the middle of a crazy, broken world! So, we can sing. We can dance!
And yes, we can sit around a table with family, eat Turkey, watch football… and be thankful.
The world may be broken. But I serve a God that is greater than the world. There will be pain. But I am loved by a God that will take away all heartache. Today may be difficult. But the future is the Lord’s!
You Can Be Thankful!
So, sit down with your family this weekend and be thankful! Enjoy conversations and relationships and
whipped cream pumpkin pie! The world is still broken, but Jesus has overcome the world. So let those who find the focus of their Hope in Christ, rejoice! Be thankful. Have peace.
Things are crazy right now. Yes. But God is making all things new!
And that is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, 2015.
You have to say family. I think there’s a rule.