Thanksgiving is coming. The holiday sits on the same calendar page that currently shows on your wall. It's coming as sure as the next day's sun. But someone shouting "It's sunny!" doesn't mean you can't shut the door, close the blinds and sit sad in the dark.
For some it may seem like the true light of thanksgiving is years away from dawning. You may be concerned about health, family, government, or jobs. You may be struggling with transportation, food costs and dwindling retirement possibilities. You may be dealing with the loss of someone you loved deeply, or of opportunities you feel may never come again.
Here's a simple thought about letting light into your heart. Always live aware of the good around you. Lift your eyes off the shadows that lie on the ground and see what shines above.
In his book "Why Faith Matters", Rabbi David J. Wolpe recounts the adventure of Marcelino de Sautola. "De Sautola entered the cave at Altamira accompanied by his 5-year-old daughter. He was searching for prehistoric artifacts.... For years he had been studying the floor of the cave. Looking around once more, his search was unavailing. His daughter, on her first visit, looked up. Suddenly she called out to him, 'Look, Papa, oxen!' He, too looked up and there he discovered the famous Paleolithic cave paintings."
Give thanks for a child who didn't know you could only look down! Think of the years de Sautola lost by keeping his eyes on the floor.
Do not dwell on pain and fear. They give life to shadows. They make the dark come alive and grow large and gain power. Never let your focus lie there. Beware of staring into the dark. It can be blinding.
The Bible never suggests that faith will keep you from all harm and that no shadows will creep into your life. But it is clear that seeing the goodness of God around you will keep hope alive and allow one to celebrate with thanksgiving. I like Psalm 112. It says this about the man following God:
"Even in darkness light dawns for the upright.... He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Psalm 112:4, 7.
The verse doesn't say that darkness and bad news don't come to the one who trusts. It says that for the truster, the dark doesn't overwhelm the light and the bad news doesn't crush with fear.
The dark you struggle with today may be real. Your bad news may be genuine. But there is a God who walks with us in the darkest of days, a God who causes us to say that hope is always more real than bad news. As Henry David Thoreau said "It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see."
Awareness and attitude, sight and hope: these open wide the doors and raise the blinds. Lift up your eyes and let Thanksgiving dawn.
Rick Cupp is a Minister at Kenai Fellowship.