That was forty years ago, and I no longer remember how I came to be there. Perhaps someone invited me (though I don’t know who), or maybe I saw something in the paper about the service and wanted to attend badly enough to go alone. In any case, at one point in the service we were asked to tell the person beside us one thing we were thankful for.
The lady beside me was a stranger, and I hadn’t come prepared to give a response to that question. However, when it was time for me to share, I knew what I wanted to say: “I’m thankful that God is the God of love.”
It was a knee-jerk reaction, but as the years pass, I’m all the more thankful for this. Can you imagine a scenario in which the Creator did not found the universe in love?
Other than speculations about Hell itself, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a world portrayed in fiction. Nor would I want to. The Great Physician graciously drew me out of the black hole of a godless existence when I first met him, and I have no desire to set foot on that path again.
Some things are obvious, such as romantic love, which often bears the fruit of parental love. How many classic plots have arisen from the former and horror stories spring from lack of the latter? Friendship likewise brings joy to life, as does love of one’s work, or one’s people and society.
But love runs deeper. Because of God’s love, the world knows justice. Mercy pops up all over the planet. Kindness is valued in every culture. Even the strictest totalitarian rule shows restraint in some aspects.
Without a loving Creator, physical ugliness would reign, for nature’s beauty serves no practical purpose beyond giving us pleasure. We would not know joy, save perhaps the momentary delight of a burning need met. But then our hunger would return, and the joy would be forgotten.
Though no individual or culture lives love perfectly, all mankind recognizes its superiority and responds to its power. A smile, a sympathetic touch, a gracious nod, are not bound by language or culture. In every nation, self-sacrifice is revered as the highest tribute anyone can offer, and it’s an offering that can only be made in love (whatever the object of that love may be).
The world is filled with love because its designer is the embodiment of it. Though the scars of sin obscure it in one degree or another, his identifying stamp is branded upon every heart.
And I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for many things, but they all have their source in the love of God, who is the God of love.
In the US, tomorrow is designated Thanksgiving Day. But in a nation in which secularism is god, to whom do we give our thanks? The waitress who serves us in the restaurant? The family members who host the celebration? The TV networks that broadcast the parades and football games and the utility companies that send the signal into our homes? Or maybe the wage-earner who brings home the check that pays for it all?
How many Americans thank the God who has made it possible not only to partake of these things, but to enjoy them?
I recommend we thank the people in our lives who honor us with their labors, for sure. But first and last, I thank God, not merely for the innumerable blessings He’s given us, but for who He is.
And if you write a story in which love doesn’t figure, please warn me before I buy it, because—and I hope you’re not offend—I don’t want to read it.