It is a good thing to give thanks [yadah] unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High. — Psalm 92:1 KJV
The Wednesday morning before folks eat turkey and pie and browse the Black Friday flyers, I wake up to this smothering of fog and this teen muttering it through the kitchen: “Whatever.”
And what do you do but say that’s not quite the way to start off the day, and he shrugs his shoulders and slams the bathroom door behind him, and I get it.
It’s there on the mantel, this framed God-thunder: “Give Thanks.” It’s no neon sign, more this painting in a quaint Shaker style. There are only two remaining Shakers now. I think about that.
Think about whether they’re still giving thanks and if this whole Pilgrim Thanksgiving thing, this whole holiday shebang, isn’t a bit of quaint antiquated denial in a world that’s right busted and hemorrhaging a mess straight out the side.
Because there are angry airwaves about a whole world of broken division, there are headlines about school-aged children being killed and bombs falling and heated politics and polarized, frustrated Facebook streams, and I sat with a mother who stood over a hole in the earth and watched as they laid her son in soil and they just buried her baby in dirt and expected her to walk away.
I’m looking this mama in the eye and I want to claw the damp, clammy earth open with my very fingernails and who cares how many days Jesus stayed away from Bethany after Lazarus died — why does He not come here, here, and resurrect our cold joy?
Who doesn’t watch the news and just howl? Who doesn’t breathe through wounds and grieve for what was or dreamed and isn’t? How do you sit around a table and bow your head in thanks when parts of this world and bits of you are somewhere busted and broken?
And I peel squash and there is God and there is all the debate and pain and news everywhere and yada, yada, yada.
Yadah, it’s Hebrew, and it literally means to hold out the hand.
There are so many ways to hold out our hands these days in the midst of all kinds of brokenness:
- to bemoan with a wringing of hands
- to confess with open hands
- to revere with an extending of hands
- to raise hands in giving thanks
Yadah — it is the whisper of Psalm 92:1. And it is a good thing to yadah around the holiday tables, to wring our hands and shake our heads and bemoan sin and suffering and injustice. To confess where we have failed, our hands open in helplessness.
It is a good thing to yadah around the tables — to revere the God who made us all by extending a hand when arms are stubbornly folded. It is a good thing to yadah around the tables — in the midst of rising voices, to raise a hand and give thanks, to brazenly confess that God is deeply good though the world is desperately not.
And you can hear it now at the cusp of the feasting, the yadah, yadah, yadah, that sings relentless and bold: we won’t stop confessing He is good and we won’t stop thanking Him for grace and we won’t stop holding out our hands — and taking His hand.
We won’t stop believing that God is good is not some trite quip for the good days but a radical defiant cry for the terrible days.
That God is good is not a stale one-liner when all’s happy but a saving lifeline when all’s hard.
And we will keep giving thanks, yadah, yadah, yadah, because giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God.
I’m holding the squash in hand. That’s what the mother had said standing there in her tsunami of grief: “I believe God is good. I believe that is all there really is.”
And every time I give thanks, I confess to the universe the goodness of God. I had touched her hand. She had said it, her eyes so clear, like you could see straight into her, into all that remains.
The morning fog ebbs across harvested fields. Thanksgiving in all things accepts the deep mystery of God through everything.
We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of who He is.
No amount of regret changes the past, no amount of anxiety changes the future, but any amount of gratitude changes the present. In the stressful times, seek God. In the painful times, praise God. In the terrible times, trust God. And at all times, thank God.
There will be bowed heads around all the tables. There will be lights flickering brave to burn back the brokenness and dark, and there will be a believing in relentless redemption and a reaching out and all these hands reaching around and out through the brokenness and there will be yadah, yadah, yadah all around the tables, this steady confessing of the abundant goodness of God — of thanking Him come whatever.
There are leaves fallen frosted across the lawn, and there’s a way that bravely shimmers on.
- Since giving thanks is only making the canyon of brokenness into a megaphone to proclaim the abundant goodness of God, can you recall five things to be grateful for in the midst of hard, broken places you’ve experienced?
- How can you choose, through the brokenness, to continually speak yadah, yadah, yadah, this steady confessing of the abundant goodness of God — of thanking Him come whatever? What can you practically commit to?
Excerpted with permission from The Way of Abundance by Ann Voskamp, copyright Ann Morton Voskamp.
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We will keep giving thanks, yadah, yadah, yadah, proclaiming the ultimate goodness of God! Today, we get to yadah around the table set for family, or friends, or even if there is no table at all we get to yadah. Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness! Today, I am grateful for my people — family, chosen-family, Church family. For God’s wild, inexplicable abundance. For divine hope that rises through the noise of our clamorous culture. For His presence. And that His goodness and lovingkindness follow me all the days of my life. How about you? Come share with us on our blog! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full