A few of us at my church are planning an Intergenerational Thanksgiving gathering and we have been brainstorming different worship stations that kids and adults can participate in. We had lots of ideas about “counting our blessings” and prayer stations reflecting on the good things in our lives. Often at this time of year we get kids to draw pictures of a warm house, their favourite pet, a table full of food. We say to them, “Look at all these blessings! Isn’t God good?!”
And He absolutely is. Luke 11 reminds us that our Heavenly Father loves to give his children what they need.
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:11-13)
But as children develop and become more and more aware of the complexities of this life, for others and maybe for themselves, how do we draw them in to the deeper place of Blessing, the places where Christ dwells in the cracks?
Christ says to us in scripture “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3)
This is one of those holy mysteries that even we as adults wrestle with. What a contradiction it is to our hearts.
So often we feel betrayed by God when we face poverty (of any kind), and yet somehow we find Christ’s promise to be intimately found in places of poverty.
Others have spoken of this in various ways. One popular song from a few years ago phrases it
‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
Sometimes the very things that we think are holding us back from receiving Blessing in our lives, are the things God wants to use. And the places holding us back from Giving Thanks to God are the inner spaces that Christ wants to indwell. This is the mystery of the kingdom of God,
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit…
Perhaps the children in your midst are in a season of abundance and feel the care of their Heavenly Father through the good gifts He has given them. In this we rejoice! We take joy in counting those gifts that the Father has given.
However, some of the other children in our midst may already be tasting a distrust of this Heavenly Father. They may be resistant to worshipping God this Thanksgiving and “counting their blessings”.
The child whose parents have just split or maybe the one who has been bullied all week at school. Or maybe the children who have been all too aware of the tragic images of pain & suffering of Syrian refugee Children on the news..
These are tender places where we tread softly with Children. We have the opportunity to introduce them to a different kind of blessing.. The Blessings in meeting the God who comforts those who mourn, fills those who hunger and is present with those in need.
Ann Voskamp says it beautifully,
Gratitude follows grace — as thunder follows lightening.
And the storm is grace because whatever drives us into God, is a grace from God.
In other words, sometimes the blessing is in the storm itself, as it is driving us deeper into God.
In this, we Give Thanks.