This year I started what I hope will become a Thanksgiving tradition with my family.
Before the meal, I asked family members to write down one or two things they are thankful for. It could be serious, funny or anywhere in between. The pieces were put in a bowl, from which I’d read during the meal. Everyone could guess who wrote each one.
The idea was to create a moment of family warmth around the meal.
While some of the submissions were somewhat flippant, they were all genuine. My first fell in that category — I wrote down my dog’s name: Daisy. Yes, I’m extremely thankful for my little white fluffball, but I also included her simply because everyone would expect me to.
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I spent a little more time thinking about what to scribble on my second scrap. I am thankful for so many people, things and experiences. Do I write a broad category to cover it all, or just pick one? Do I go the route of some of my family who composed a mini-essay on the little slips?
I wrote one word: Hope. I am thankful for hope. But I am not simply thankful for the fact I have hope.
Hope can be based in a lot of things. Black Friday shoppers hoped for really good deals, promised in the relentless marketing of retailers.
My hopes for a re-enactment of Norman Rockwell’s picturesque Thanksgiving scenes at my family’s table were based partly in my mother’s beautiful place settings and partly in my efforts toward family bonding.
But temporal hopes can lead to disappointment.
As I said before, I’m more thankful for that in which my hope is based than for the mere fact of possession of it.
My hope is based in the Lord and his promises in the Bible: among them, that he is faithful, he will never forsake us, he loves us more than we can ever understand.
Hope based in the Lord and his promises is not a hope in vain. It is a hope based “in things not seen” (Hebrews 11), but it is also a hope that will not disappoint (Romans 5).
For that I am thankful.
Sara Hogan is one of the new rotation of Faith Walk writers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.