In All Things, Give Thanks
By Michele McLean
We are coming upon the holiday season and Thanksgiving is a time where we again reflect on what we have to be grateful for. Prayers are said, thankfulness is expressed and we celebrate God’s blessings once again on Thanksgiving Day. On this day it is relatively easy to conjure up these warm feelings in our heart. Isn’t that the whole point of the day? I mean, it isn’t all about the turkey and pumpkin pie?
As this season approaches, I am reminded that we are to recognize the blessings in our life each day. Thankfulness is not a once a year novelty. It’s not to be put on once a year like our reindeer holiday sweater! I believe we need to daily cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Scripture tells us, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).We are to give thanks in all things, not some things, not the great and wonderful things, but in everything.
Does that mean I am thankful if my car gets totaled? Well, I can be thankful that I wasn’t hurt. What about the really tough things in life like losing a job, a home, or the death of a loved one? Ouch! Thankfulness? Seriously? Oh I know we can say the right, “spiritual” thing in such circumstances. It’s harder to have a thankful heart in the circumstance. God isn’t saying to be thankful that something awful has happened. He knows we are human, we get hurt, we lose hope, and suffer grief. No, rather he wants us to give thanks in the face of it.
I was told at 20 weeks pregnant that my child had a syndrome that was rare and incompatible with life. They were uncertain if she would even survive the delivery. The second half of my pregnancy was filled with moments of fear, worry, prayer, and hope. Through a difficult and complicated delivery my daughter was born with breath in her lungs. Her father and I, along with those most precious to us, were able to love on her in the little time her lungs sustained her.
Losing a child at any age is an unbearable burden, an indescribable despair. My sorrow was long and deep. In the midst of my sorrow I found myself doing a peculiar thing. I was thankful. I was thankful Caitlin was born alive and that I could spend a few precious moments with her. I was thankful that the nurses that were taking care of us felt God’s presence in our room. Although they didn’t understand it, they expressed what peace and love they experienced around us, that we were “different” somehow. I am thankful that God was glorified in the midst of our sorrow. If only for a day, I was thankful for the time God gave me with my little one before she went to Jesus. In the face of my pain, I was able to give thanks.
Perhaps this past year you are one of the millions who have lost their job, maybe your house is in foreclosure, perhaps you have lost one dear to your heart. This may be a season of grief and loss for you, but please know that you have a hope that does not disappoint. For you have a Father who understands you. He comforts the brokenhearted. He promises to never leave you or forsake you. His love is extravagant toward you. His love never fails. Your sadness may last for a time, but joy will come, “But Joy comes in the morning, You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing” (Psalm 30:5). Oh what we have to be thankful for. Such a great God! Such a great love!
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