A newborn baby is making national news this Thanksgiving Eve morning. The boy, with his umbilical cord still attached, was found in a nativity scene at a church in New York City. “The church is considered a safe haven for dropoffs,” the priest later explained.
The child was taken to a nearby hospital. According to the priest, “There are families within the parish who have inquired as to adopting the baby already. They feel that he was left in the parish and should stay in the parish.” The name of the congregation: Holy Child Jesus Church.
Is there a better name for a church?
God could have come to our rebellious planet as a military conqueror—in fact, that’s how Jesus will return at the end of history (Revelation 19:11-16). Instead, he chose to come as a helpless baby, totally dependent on Mary and Joseph to sustain and protect him. Here’s one reason why: so we would know that we must come to God with the humility of a child. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
In a world that values power, why does God value humility? Because he cannot do for us what we try to do for ourselves. He cannot give what we will not admit we need to receive. He cannot lead us if we will not admit we need his wisdom. He cannot save us if we try to save ourselves.
These are challenging days for thanksgiving. Tensions are high after yesterday’s downing of a Russian fighter jet. As today’s New York Times notes, “The only winner in a confrontation between Russia and the West is the Islamic State.” Protests erupted overnight in Chicago after police released a graphic dashcam video showing an officer shooting a black teenager sixteen times. An Illinois woman has been charged with stabbing her husband four days after their wedding.
But our Lord calls us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Here’s why we can be grateful for our challenges: they show us how much we need God. (Tweet this)
When Paul pleaded with God for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed, the Lord responded: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul concluded: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
David testified, “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.” He could then say to God, “You are my help and my deliverer” (Psalm 40:17). Jesus was clear: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
What makes thanksgiving hard for you this week? You’re not alone. As St. Augustine noted, “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” Use your “thorn in the flesh” to draw closer to the Great Physician. Ask him to be strong where you are weak. Become a child, so that he can become your Father.
And know this: “God will mend a broken heart if you give him all the pieces” (Aesop).