At the beginning of this year, I wrote here that my goal for 2018 was to live in a state of thanksgiving, such that none of God’s grace to me would go unnoticed, and none of the days He gave to me would go half-lived.
I did not know that task would be so difficult, but at the same time so life-giving.
I had no idea what I would be asked to endure.
How does one bring a grain offering to the Lord when there are no grits of new growth, no early ripened things, no fresh heads of grain and no unleavened bread to offer? What do I bring Him when my hands are empty and the year is famine?
But there is an element of the grain offering (also known as the thanksgiving offering) that doesn’t depend on my situation or the state of my harvest. It doesn’t need the rains to come at the right time and it doesn’t rest on whether I’m faithful and honest enough to see it and bring it before God. It’s something entirely outside of my control - something I didn’t grow or earn or create.
Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.
Even when I come to the altar with nothing, there’s still something in my hands. There is still something to offer back to God with a heart of thanksgiving.
“The salt of the covenant of your God.”
In ancient Hebrew culture, salt symbolized loyalty, faithfulness, and commitment. Even today in Arab cultures there is a saying when a friendship, marriage, or contract is sealed: “There is salt between us.” And when God chose to enter into relationship with the people of Israel, and later with His Church through Jesus, He made a covenant with us.
The salt sprinkled over the grain offering is a reminder that He is faithful to that covenant, to His Word, to His character.
It is nothing of my own, nothing I cultivated, nothing I deserve. But even when everything else is dead and empty, I have this to thank God for - the salt of His covenant with me, the reality of His everlasting faithfulness to me, and the love that will never let me go.
When my circumstances are not what I hoped or planned or expected, God is still who He said He is, still where He said He would be, and still doing what He said He would do.
If this year has taught me anything, it’s that there is never an excuse to not give thanks. Things are never bad enough to negate the goodness of God. Living for Him is never “too hard” - not in light of what He suffered for me.
O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.