“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving.” —Jonah 2:9a
Thanksgiving has just slipped by silently in Indonesia. MAF doesn’t take Thursday or Friday off because Thanksgiving is not celebrated here. This year we gathered with several MAF families on Friday evening for a traditional feast, replacing turkey with chicken. For the first time in several years, frozen turkeys showed up at a store in the neighboring town, but with a price tag that translates to $70.00 US, chicken tasted just fine.
I was recently reminded of a different kind of thanksgiving: a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Two months ago our community gathered at church on a Sunday morning, giving part of the service to remember the life of a beautiful 21-year-old girl who had grown up here in Papua. Her parents were missionaries, and she had been in the States going to school when an automobile accident tragically claimed her life. Our mission community mourned deeply for her. During our time of worship that day the tears flowed freely, yet hands were lifted to the Lord in praise. In our sadness, we brought a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord.
That event reminded me of yet another time, many years ago, when I attended a retreat for mothers who had lost children. The loss of our own daughter, Hannah, was still a painful wound in our lives. What stands out most in my memory from that retreat were the times of worship. I was in a room filled with ladies who had each endured the pain of losing a child. I had never experienced worship like that before—each of us, in our pain, honestly making a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord. It wasn’t easy, but it was powerful. It was the most real and honest worship I have ever experienced.
In our dark times, may we be willing to “sacrifice to [the LORD] with the voice of thanksgiving,” like Jonah did from the blackness of the belly of the whale.