We all share, but rarely consider, one big thing we should thank God for. Perhaps it’s a given in our experience, like water to fish. Or perhaps our thanks is rare because we seldom pause to consider it unless shaken by circumstance. All the things we’ve talked about being thankful for in the past few weeks touch this one thing in some way. In fact, without this one thing, thankfulness itself wouldn’t exist. That one thing is life, more than just existence, but also the ability to grasp what life means or could mean.
Many things are alive. We see evidence of life from the smallest germ to the largest redwood tree. But very few that we know of have the ability to ponder life’s existence, purpose, and eventual end. In a way, that is humanity’s superpower, the ability to see behind the curtain and grasp glimmers of meaning in the past, present, and future.
God created humanity with the ability to ponder this precious gift. The teacher/philosopher of Ecclesiastes observed, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT) We experience life moment by moment, and yet we are aware of eternity.
This doesn’t mean that our lives are perfect. This big thing of life is not about its condition but that we are experiencing it right now. In fact, I’m 100% certain that you are alive right now. (Unless you’re some silicon-based Artificial Intelligence from the future.) The outcomes, the joys, the sorrows, the struggles, the successes, the advances, and the injustices of our individual lives are all unique. The one commonality is life.
Jesus also spoke about life. In fact, the preeminent topics Jesus spoke of are life and love. Jesus said, for example, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10, NLT) He also said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:25–27, NLT)
But Jesus’ purpose wasn’t just to give us a better life in the here and now but to open the door to eternal life with God. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” (John 5:24, NLT) It’s like this, let’s say that ameba and plants experience life in one dimension, animals experience life in two dimensions, the whole of humanity in three dimensions, Christ-followers experience life in four dimensions.
The point, however, is not to try and grasp all of this. The point is to be thankful to God for life and our life in Christ. Life is something we experience every day but take little thought of. Some of you may have a “good” life, but others may feel that their life isn’t worth living. But it is worth it; life is always preferred. Today may be an ugly mess; tomorrow may seem to hold the same promise. Let me give you a bit of sage wisdom. It’s not about the hand we’ve been dealt in life, but what we do with each moment that really matters. Thanking God for being alive and inviting Christ into our life changes everything and opens the door to eternity.