Grateful for what God withholds
Thanksgiving Day focuses on all that you have been given. That is a good thing! It is arrogant, unwise, and selfish to take God's blessings for granted. But, there are unexpected ways that God is good to you. It is important to be thankful for what God chooses to withhold. This thought may seem not to "fit" well. After all, you pray for things, as the Lord teaches that you should. So, why should you be thankful for what you don't have?
Psalm 23 begins this way:
"The Lord is my shepherd,
I have all that I need."
The beloved psalm combines in all that you need to know about God's loving commitment to you in two short phrases.
First: The Lord is your shepherd. God cares for you as a shepherd. He protects you, provides for you, watches over you, loves you, prays for you, he has planned out your days, he is committed to you, even to the point of death. Wow!
Second: If this is true then you really do have all that you need.
There are obviously many things that you do not have. But if God is your shepherd than you truly have all that you need. This does not mean that you will never have other things, but it does mean right now you have all that you need to serve God (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Think about this with me. If you had all that you wanted right now would that be a good thing? The quick and easy answer is yes. But if you think in terms of this psalm the Holy Spirit is telling you that if you truly need something your loving Shepherd would make sure that you have it. Just because I want something or think I need something doesn't necessarily mean that is a good thing for me. More often than not, what I really desire and think I need turns out to be not such a good idea.
If your shepherd is withholding something from you, he is doing it in love. He will give you what you need when you need it. That is what a good, loving shepherd does! This means that you can be truly thankful for what you don't have. It doesn't mean you will never have it, it just means your good, faithful Shepherd knows you are not ready for it yet.
Be thankful for all that you have. Also be thankful for what you do not. In this particular moment the nearness of God is your good. You have all that you need!