Thursday, November 19, 2015

When Your Enemy is Too Strong For You: The Senselessness of Thanksgiving

by Danetta Kellar

He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 

They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. -Psalm 18:16-19. A thanksgiving psalm of David after God delivered him from all his enemies. 

I once watched someone drowning. I was a little girl, standing on the lake shore. A woman paddled out to the deep and began to bob up and down. I did not understand at first that she was sinking, until she began to cry out. As a man rushed past me into the water, I stared while her head disappeared beneath the dark green lake. I was frozen in terror and helplessness, for I had not yet learned to swim in deep water. I knew I could not save her. Her rescuer reached her in time to save her life. He brought her back to the safety of the shore, of oxygen, of life.

If you are drowning as this holiday season approaches, if it seems others are looking on, paralyzed and unable to help you, I have good news. 

There is a Rescuer who is running to you, who will draw you out of many waters and bring you to a broad place, a safe place. He rescues you not because you are doing everything right, not because you understand his ways in your life, not because you have followed all the rules. He rescues you because He delights in you.

We all have foes which are just too strong for us. 

And they seem to love the holidays. Attitudes, addictions, tragedies, and nursed little grievances all line up for Thanksgiving dinner and want to be fed.

Enemies and foes do not always wear armor and grizzly beards. They do not always happen in the form of unexpected loss or senseless tragedy. They often hide in our hearts, disguised as strong opinions, personal rights, and desperate needs. They may look an awfully lot like your spouse, your sibling, or some other family member you just can't seem to get along with. Under all their guises, they are no less than what the psalmist King David faced as he fled for his life.

Too strong for us, they squeeze us into tight spaces and suffocate our joy. We are overwhelmed, defeated, confronted with our captivity. Our enemy is too mighty for us, it would seem.

Yet in this place we can find the secret of thanksgiving.

But the Lord was my stay. (v. 18)

He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (v. 17)

David knew a secret about thanksgiving. Long before the Pilgrims met the Indians, David was pouring out his heart in thanksgiving to God for His protection and provision. Like Samuel's mother Hannah (see Look Up and Pour Out: The Beginning of Thanksgiving), David knew that God was his Rock. No matter what men said or did to him, David stood firm on an unshakable foundation.

There is a lot of advice out there for the down-and-out. Pray more, fast, pray more again, go to church, go to a twelve step group, read this or that book.

But what about the ones whose foes are too strong for them, the ones who are on their faces, a foot on their backs, their mouths in the mud, confronted by enemies while they are down? What about the ones whose eyes are squeezed shut in fear, unable to read the words of help on a page, the ones who are sitting in the middle of disaster with no place to hide?

Can they find a reason for thanksgiving?

This message of hope is for the mother sitting at 4 am by the hospital bedside of her teenage son after his suicide attempt failed.

It is for the suddenly widowed father who is trying to figure out how much ibuprophen to give his small child, and how to get those little socks to fold together in the laundry... his wife always attended to those details.

This thanksgiving message is for the young victim of abuse who wants to become a survivor but just can't let go of the familiarity of darkness.

This hope, this desperate rescue word, is for anyone at all who is facing foes just too strong for her.

There is a Rescuer who is running for you. He is on His way, and He will place you on a Rock that is unshakable. Hold on, dear one. 

Thanksgiving makes startling sense in the light of loss and need. It reminds us that God's promises are greater than our circumstances, and His refuge is our hiding place. The Lord will be our stay.

Should we give thanks during times of tragedy and loss? Share your thoughts and join the conversation!


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