Have a Happy Forward-thinking Thanksgiving!
This Thursday, when many Americans will be sitting down around a festive centerpiece, one or two pies too many, and a tryptophan-laced turkey, at least some of our Trinity families will also, I’m sure, be participating in a certain Thanksgiving Day tradition. Those sitting around the table will talk about the things for which they’re thankful—responding to the ways in which God has demonstrated his goodness over the past year. Such retrospective thanksgiving (or what the Bible calls “remembering”), whether occurring around the table that day or in one’s daily prayers, is such an important component of the Christian life. It’s good to look in the rearview mirror, at least from time to time, and simply thank God for how he has carried us.
But in John 11 we see a different kind of thanksgiving, one that doesn’t neatly fit the pattern of looking in the rearview mirror. It’s the story of Jesus’ raising of the recently deceased Lazarus. If you know it well, you just might recall that right after the stone is rolled away from the tomb entrance and right before Lazarus is called out from the grave, Jesus prays a brief prayer of thanksgiving: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42).
While Jesus is thanking God for having already answered his prayer, the scope of Jesus’ thanksgiving prayer is undeniably future-oriented: “I thank you, Father, that you heard me,” Jesus says. Now if anyone had a scrape with death and lived to tell about it, it was Lazarus. Yet Jesus thanked God because he knew that the best years of Lazarus, never mind the bandages, were still ahead of him. You might even call this a forward-thinking thanksgiving.
As this Thanksgiving Day approaches, I am thankful for our Trinity students and their parents; I am also thankful for our highly dedicated faculty, hard-working staff, wise trustees, prayerful alumni, and generous donors. Most of all, I am thankful to God for the numerous ways he has demonstrated his faithfulness to Trinity over the past 125 years. Trinity present would not have been possible without Trinity past. I am thankful for both Trinity past and Trinity present. But, encouraged by Jesus’ example, I am also thankful for and excited about Trinity’s future.
Now if you are one of those folks who on Thanksgiving Day lets the turkey get a little cold while you enumerate the many “goodnesses” of God, make sure also to thank him for the many ways he been good to Trinity and will be good to Trinity. Why? Because I know that Trinity’s prayer warriors have been praying, and that God has already answered their prayers!
Scrapes or no scrapes, bandages or no bandages—Trinity’s best years are still to come.
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