The story of Job is about a man pushed to his limits. The story of Job is meant to help us explore and understand life in difficult and extreme circumstances. We think of this story as one of a man in great calamity.
But at Thanksgiving there is a verse in Job that seems to be as full of gratitude and hope as any in the scriptures. Job 36:26: “How great is God—beyond our understanding!”
It’s not just the “How great is God” part that I like—although at Thanksgiving we rightfully express our gratitude for God’s greatness and abundance. I also am interested in the last part, the “beyond our understanding” phrase.
At Thanksgiving we count our blessings, express our gratitude, affirm the ways in which we have experienced goodness. But on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, the pressures of reality begin to push back in on us. And by Monday, when we are still eating leftovers and heading back to work, it can be easy enough to forget the gratitude of Thanksgiving Thursday.
And that’s where the second part of the text kicks in. Belief in God is not just about looking back over past blessings, or even about being thankful for where we are right now—although both of those things are so important. Our God is also “beyond our understanding.” His love and care extend beyond the present moment and even embrace the future that is unknown to us. God’s loves goes over and beyond!
On Thanksgiving, we may speak with gratitude about the blessings of the past year and our appreciation for the God who is present with us. Even then our eyes are on the future, a future beyond our understanding but surely known to God.
Thanksgiving provides us a milestone of gratitude in the autumn of our year. We count our blessings and express our thankfulness. But Thanksgiving is also an anchor for hope. In spite of tough times, in spite of uncertainty, in spite of difficulties—at Thanksgiving we look to the future with hopefulness. We look at what we’ve survived, we gather our greatest blessings near to us, and we greet the coming of the winter with optimism and confidence.
Melody Beattie wrote, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Happy Thanksgiving! May our hearts be filled with the entire array of gratitude.