When Thanksgiving becomes Praisegiving
She (Leah) conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. — Genesis 29:35
It is difficult to believe that Thanksgiving is once again upon us. 2013 is almost gone. I haven’t attempted to make a thankful post every day this month, but I am certainly thankful. In fact, I believe thankfulness is pretty easy. It is super easy to think about all of the stuff that benefits me and my life and be thankful. So yes, I am thankful for Jesus who gave His life for mine. I am thankful that my wife chose to marry me eleven years and eleven months ago. I am thankful for my kids, my parents, my health, my job, my church, my home, my cars, my guitars, my abilities and my books…especially my Bibles. I am thankful for countless other things that don’t even come to my mind because I am beyond blessed.
It is interesting to me that almost every person who is asked what they are most thankful for will say “friends and family.” To me, this means that people are the most grateful for the fact that they are cared for and loved. This also quickly makes me think about the Leah’s in this world. On the surface, I bet everyone thought she had it made and had it all together. She came from a wealthy home and married a wealthy man. Unfortunately, if you know the story, she was deceived when she got married. Her dad tricked Jacob and pulled a true wife swap on what was supposed to be his and Rachel’s wedding day. I would bet that Laban convinced Leah that Jacob was “a good man” who would “take care of her.” She probably bought into it despite the fact that she knew Jacob only had eyes for her younger sister. So, she goes through with it. How did that turn out for her? Genesis 29:31 says that the Lord saw that Leah was not loved.
In a strange twist of fate, Leah was able to have children, but Rachel was not. So, Leah does what a countless number of teenage girls have done. She does what a countless number of wives have done who married immature “boys” who would rather hunt, play golf, play video games or “hang with the boys” than love their wives (and yes…I was one of those immature boys). She has a baby thinking it will be the difference maker. She thinks that will fix everything and her husband will all of a sudden magically fall in love her. She repeats this process two more times saying things like “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him 3 sons.” I can’t imagine how desperate she must have been for authentic affection.
I know that there are a lot of hurting people in the world. My job consists of working with lots of kids who are hurting. On the surface, they act all tough and act like everything is cool, but I have heard some of their stories. As I have listened, they all seem to mention a great moment of hurt. Somewhere in their lives they felt used and insignificant…just like Leah.
Leah made babies trying to get her husband to love her. Teenage girls by the millions are hopping in and out of bed with boyfriend after boyfriend hoping that sex will bring them love. Teenage boys by the millions are using drugs and alcohol in an attempt to be accepted by a crowd that they think are friends. I bought into it as well. I remember buying certain clothes in an attempt to “be cool.” I remember drinking that alcohol that I didn’t even like so I could blend in with the party crowd. I remember sleeping around simply so I could brag and be like the other teenagers and young adults who sure seemed so happy living life that way. None of that stuff ever brought peace. It was simply a never ending cycle of searching for the next “fix.”
I never received peace until I did what Leah did. When she had tried and tried to do it the world’s way and received nothing in return, she said “this time, I will praise the Lord.” In other words, “I am done trying to win the attention and affection of people. I am going to put my life in the hands in the one who made me and who loves me simply for being His creation.”
Maybe your heart is full and you are so thankful this Thanksgiving that it is very easy to come up with reasons to be thankful every day and even post those reasons on Facebook and Twitter for the world to see. If this is genuinely you, then I don’t have to tell you to enjoy your holiday season. On the other hand, maybe you are hurting. Maybe you are living life in a way that is simply trying to please people around you and you feel like you are receiving nothing in return. If this is you, there two options. Either keep doing what you are doing, or make this Thanksgiving your first Praisegiving. Praisegiving consists of disregarding your present, unfavorable circumstances and praising God. Most people will choose to continue their same dead end cycle. But, a few people will do what Leah did. This time, they will praise the Lord.
Keep in mind that her circumstances didn’t change…
Her focus did.