(First published November 28, 2013)
This is for the people who are struggling with Thanksgiving Day. The rest of you can move along. There is nothing here to see.
Jesus stood on the hillside with five barley loaves in his hand. It wasn’t an armload of bread. A kid was able to carry them easily on a long walk, five loaves in some kind of bag along with a couple fish.
Jesus takes the loaves and fishes and feeds 15,000 people. This story is pretty familiar. All four Gospel writers talk about it. I’m not going to retell it, but I want to focus on one thing. Jesus took the five loaves, John writes, “and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated.”
Jesus could see the crowd when he gave thanks, and he could see his hands. Being the wisest man who ever lived, he knew there was a disparity between those two. And so he gave thanks.
We want to say, “And yet.” But what if the only way to get through the insurmountable, miracle-requiring, heart-stopping gaps between what we have and what we need is to thank God. For whatever is in our hands.
I don’t know what you lack as you face the barrage of messages demanding that we be thankful. It could be that you don’t have nearly enough forgiveness for the faces around the table. You may not have enough courage for the eyes you know are watching you as you deal with your loss this year. You may not have enough answers for the questions about your future, enough family for the places in your heart, enough food, enough energy, enough.
I offer this suggestion with much timidity. I know that it will sound deceptively simple but may be heart-stoppingly hard. But try doing what Jesus did. Take the small loaves you do have in your hands and thank the Father.
See what he does with the little forgiveness, faith, family, or food you do have.