If I were to join your Thanksgiving celebration, come meal time I’d settle in a chair next to you.
Over turkey, mashed potatoes laden with gravy, bowls of creamed corn, and please tell me there will be heaps of pretzel jello salad, I’ll gather with your family- large or small- and the question of What are we thankful for? will surface followed by a merry-go-round of heartfelt responses.
I’m thankful for…
God providing financially.
A successful business
Let’s be thankful for everyday simple miracles and huge blessings alike.
Let’s also give thanks, where our hearts and heads connect with joy and gratitude, over the really.hard.stuff.
Like losing a parent
Or a baby through miscarriage
Struggling with infertility
Or experiencing pain in a strained relationship
Let’s utter thanks for bankruptcy and job loss
In the ever-present prayer for raising kids and the feeling of we are trying our best but oh, are we doing an okay job?
In depression and anxiety and mental fuzziness let’s say out loud I. am. grateful.
What? Why should I be happy, even thankful for the messy parts of life?
Because in our suffering, in our lowest human points, that is precisely where the thanksgiving perspective shifts. When we realize life is not in a box, that horrible circumstances happen to amazing people, that health isn’t guaranteed and death always is, that marriages fail and hurt is all-around, and we still choose gratefulness, that my friends, is true thanksgiving.
When we trust that God is in charge despite circumstances, that He will not waste one loss or heartache, but will use every finite detail for His glory, then we can say with confidence, how grateful we are for the really.hard.stuff.
Don’t you find it easier to say thank you after you see how life plays out? Hindsight is always 20/20, right?
Each of us have stories about when situations didn’t go as planned, when life took a dark turn, then later down the road you saw what God was doing. And you celebrated that. You thanked Him that His plan that was better than yours.
What if this Thursday, we get cozy around the table by sharing our hurt, and pain, and questions that don’t yet have answers, and give thanks for each of them?
What if we praise God for what He is going to do, not only what He has already done?
What if we confidently cling when He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” and burst with thanksgiving knowing that Jesus was not implying a “full” life equals an easy, healthy, has-all-the-answers life, but one that will be full of really.hard.stuff. And in the hard stuff we get to rely on a Savior- not ourselves!
Could this be the year your Thanksgiving perspective shifts?
As you verbalize gratefulness for the millions of ways God shows Himself in beauty and grace and provision, could you then pause and invite the truest parts of your insides out?
Are you willing to bravely thank God out loud, even through raw grief tears, even as you hurt, even when the anger is bubbling at the surface, even when you don’t feel like it, but because you know with every fiber within that God sees you, that God is good, and that God is worthy of your thankfulness.
I take comfort in trusting a Jesus who gets it. He understands the night sobs, the desperation, the questions asking how can any good come of this tragedy? In Hebrews 4:15-16 it says, for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I reach for your hand. I’ll start.