You Find What You Seek
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Intern Michael Poeschl
Happy Thanksgiving Augustana! I hope that your day is filled with goodness; with family, food and peace. This Thanksgiving was not what I expected, how about you? Thanksgiving expectations at our house have generally involved going to my father’s house and seeing my large extended family. My family has had 25 continuous years of gathering together for Thanksgiving. My children look forward to hanging out with their cousins, playing games and running all over the place at their grandparents house. My wife and I look forward to talking to our in-laws and having some time to relax. Everyone settles into the comfort of being together. The delicious aromas of the food cooking, knowing that everyone has arrived safely, and a warm fire in the fireplace creates a happy and relaxed atmosphere. The crowning moment is when the food is on the table and my Dad stands up and says grace. First, he gives thanks to God, who has brought us all together. Next, he gives thanks for the food and all of the hard work that brought the food to our table. Then he thanks each of us by name for being there. Saving the best for last he thanks God for the gift of Jesus. It is at this moment that I feel God’s presence as the words of gratitude ripple out to all of us in this large family.
“Praise is due to you, O, God in Zion.” Psalm 65 is a hymn of praise that puts our focus directly on God, who we are thankful to for the earth’s bounty. We give thanks to God for the gift of life, including the earth which provides the resources to live life, for answering our prayers and forgiving our transgressions. Through our faith we know we are chosen to be in a close relationship with the Lord. In the presence of God we receive many sustaining blessings. Filled with these blessings we are bursting with joy, and unable to contain our shouts of praise and thanksgiving. I hope you are feeling that way today, but I’m guessing that many of us might feel that something is missing. Even though we are surrounded by God, we don’t always see his presence. This may be the result of our expectations being different than what God has chosen for us. Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful when it seems there is nothing to be thankful for.
In the world today, we may feel alone, scrambling to find our way in the darkness and lead by fear. At times we may let fear get the better of us, rather than trusting our faith in God’s plan. If we give into the way the world tells us to see things, where is God for us? When we seek the goodness of God’s house we will find welcome and Thanksgiving. Even David, who struggled to be faithful, knew that he couldn’t put himself above God. This psalm is a thanksgiving for the abundant harvest that God provides. It gives us a view of a world alive with the glory of God; a place of peace, unspoiled and abundant, where all people are delivered, and our relationship unites us with everyone to experience God’s saving help.
Giving thanks for what I have been given was taught to me at a young age. When I received a gift or was given help, my parents taught me how to write or call the person who gave me a gift and the importance of thanking them. This meant saying thank you even if the gift wasn’t the one that I wanted. While this procedure was awkward at an early age, I began to understand that the relationship between the gift and the giver was greater than my expectations. Saying “Thank You” for a gift recognizes the giver and forms a caring relationship. If we forget to say thank you, then we show that we are taking the gift and the giver for granted. The psalm reminds us of the importance of giving praise, where our relationship with God is the result of being blessed.
Blessings are given to us by God, freely, without anything we do on our part, as gifts that enrich our lives. If we don’t recognize the blessings in our daily life, then we might miss them because they were not what we were looking for. Blessings arrive spontaneously and we respond with wonder and amazement. Many of our blessings seem obvious; the birth of a baby, a couple engaged to be married, or a cure from a disease, these are all blessed gifts that compel us to say, “Praise is due to you, O God.” What about the less obvious gifts, the ones we have to seek out. Maybe quarantine allowed you to form friendships with those who were distant neighbors or you became a regular with online worship. When we develop the ability to be grateful for God’s gifts we open ourselves to be grateful to others. By looking beyond ourselves, we can spread a ripple of gratitude throughout our Augustana community.
My holiday gathering won’t look the same this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Thanksgiving. What was expected and familiar has us looking for a new way to connect and be in the presence of God. I wonder what blessings will come from this year’s Thanksgiving? Think about how God has blessed you this year? Perhaps we can’t answer that question yet, but we can begin with our faith in a loving God, who has chosen us to be in a close relationship. We are blessed in many new ways. We most likely will have smaller gatherings. Dinner will be made with our smaller groups and maybe everyone can help in the kitchen, yet we will be thankful to be together in our own house. We are blessed to have a close relationship in our families. Thanks to technology we are able to call, text, and even make a video for those who aren’t with us. Most likely, we will connect on zoom to share our individual family celebrations and let our gratitude ripple out to our larger family. We are thankful for each other, and we share a blessed relationship.
Verse 4 states, “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.” God invites us into a close relationship and gives us all that we need. Unfortunately for some; we confuse what we want, with what we need.
What goodness do you want to look for?
What will be satisfying?
Do we only focus on what we think we are missing?
It’s a blessing to be satisfied with what we have been given by God, “You are the hope of all the ends of the earth.” By seeking our blessings from God, we can avoid selfishly getting caught up in the anxiety of our current problems. If we step away from the negative energy of fear, then we are back in the presence of God. Giving thanks, where thanks is due, opens us up to pass our gratitude onto those around us. We can choose to be grateful, and isn’t that what we need now? When we think that we can’t have something, we tend to want it even more, and that usually leads to disappointment. When we seek God we will not be disappointed. We will find the source of all that we have been given and we can give thanks.
This year, especially this incredibly long 2020, is a year of gratitude. It isn’t what any of us expected or asked for as a gift. It is a very hard thank you note to write. This year; however, requires more gratitude than ever. Being thankful, when so much feels disappointing, allows us to be thankful for so many more reasons. My wife tells our family all of the time, “You find what you seek. What do you want to find?” I ask you to dig deep today. I want you to discover those flecks of goodness in life and be thankful. If you are looking for blessings, you will find blessings, and in turn you will become a blessing for others. Maybe your gratitude will allow someone to turn away from their expectations and be thankful. Be a thankful pebble today and let Thanksgiving ripple out from you.