Be Thankful – Grateful

Photo by P. du Preez

I was so proud of myself. My Thanksgiving blog was written, edited, and scheduled to post – two weeks early! It was a sweet piece about all the things I love most about the holiday.

Then, last week, life happened.

All that I wrote seemed trite, out of place in contrast to the week’s circumstances.

Our dear friends lost their son, unexpectedly, so needlessly.

A friend’s daughter was diagnosed with COVID, the family, extended family, friends all exposed.

A 16-year-old killed on the expressway.

A father of four heading home from work, gone, instantly.

So no, my original blog post no longer worked. It didn’t address the burden my heart felt. It doesn’t answer the hard question,

How can I be thankful (how can you be thankful), even grateful, in the midst of the pain that fills our world, our lives, the lives of those we love?

I wonder if you have ever experienced those moments when being grateful is out of reach. Times when you want to trust but trusting feels awkward and if you’re honest disingenuous. Thankful and grateful are great aspirations but today, today you just want to wake up and have the pain gone.

I’m not going to try to provide a formula for transforming your aching into gratefulness or offer a series of clichés to encourage you to be strong. Instead, I want you to imagine that I’m sitting across the table from you, cups of warm tea sit between us, your hands rest in mine. I lean forward and as clearly as I can express I remind you,

Life on earth is hard, often unfair, even unkind. But our lives are not confined to this earthly realm. I am confident that pain, suffering, brokenness will be replaced. Replaced with unimaginable joy, a peace beyond understanding, an awareness that you are loved beyond reason. Today we live in the hard. Yet this is exactly where we find God. It is in our brokenness, a contrite humble place, that He molds, shapes, transforms us into His image.

And as I sit back in my chair, I recognize that this reminder may not be enough to comfort you. But it is the only thing that has ever provided reassurance for my pain.

Tim Keller, in his book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, offers this insight,

One of the main ways we move from abstract knowledge about God to a personal encounter with him as a living reality is through the furnace of affliction.

Every event in my life that dragged me through life’s furnace, lead me to greater intimacy with God.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us,

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. 17 These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! 18 So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

Living Bible (TLB)

My prayer for you this Thanksgiving is that you come to understand that this world’s hard can realign your perspective and lead you to the feet of Jesus. And as you look into His eyes, my hope is that you realize you are cherished and loved. You have so much to be thankful for, so much to be grateful for.

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Take a few minutes to enjoy Thank You by Maverick City

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