Anxiety, Thanksgiving, and Time

Thanksgiving time brings thoughts of good things of which to be grateful.  Having a grateful heart includes a balanced perspective on time, which can be helpful with anxiety, often a part of the holiday season.

Never worry about anything. Instead, in every situation let your petitions be made known to God through prayers and requests, with thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:6 (ISV)

Spiritually, the concept of time is significant, dividing our life on earth from eternity. Temporality is time constrained by linear events.  Our life in the world is ordered by time passing sequentially.  Temporality provides space for us to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

God’s perspective is omnipresence in time as well as space. Living in eternity allows relating without the constraints of temporality. God sees the beginnings and the end, and all that happens in between, all in one snapshot.  After this life, we will share this picture.

Don’t forget this fact, dear friends: With the Lord a single day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a single day. 2 Peter 3:8 (ISV)

This is easy to forget in our current state.  When we are anxious, we see only a part of the current reality. We can be reassured and our fears relieved, when there is a bigger view, seen from eternity. 

 My times are in your hands. Deliver me from the hands of my enemies and from those who pursue me.
Psalm 31:15 (ISV)

We are not of this world, as we have eternity to enjoy if we are one of God’s children through the blood of Jesus.  But in practice, it is natural to forget that our time frame goes beyond this life. If we only had this life, anxiety would rule. The current reality would be the only reality. We would be hopeless and doomed to the death of this world, with no true justice, and no victory of good over evil. We would be dependent on ourselves and our sense of meaning would be lost.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope.’
Jeremiah 29:11 (ISV)

Gratefulness is not born out of compulsion or obligation.  Just thinking about things to be grateful for doesn’t lead to a grateful heart.  The pride of compulsion leads one away from a surrendered self.  Gratefulness is a state of emotional peace that can result from receiving His gifts.  It is a place of the heart that understands salvation, the knowledge of God’s love and the gift of His grace.

In Matthew 5:3-12, the Beatitudes promise that there are blessings in the future. The transformation of pain and persecution depends on a future that is redeemed and recreated by God. Our stories of stress and anxiety don’t end with the current situation or with this life on earth.  God is the original author and creator.  He uses time to create stories of redemption and restoration.  He uses time to fulfill joy allowing us to see His glory.

There is fulfillment in our stories with the passage of time through His redemptive grace. That’s how, if we are faithful, we can be thankful.  With faith, we can believe God’s assurances for our welfare. Remembering God’s bigger perspective of time, we can dwell in Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving holiday allows us to take time to think about God’s time. Practicing an eternal perspective while seeing redemption in time calms our fears of calamity. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful about the good things not just of this world, but the fulfillment of things we will see in the world to come.

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