Giving Thanks for the Hard Things
"Let's give thanks"; "Simply Blessed"; "Grateful, Thankful, Blessed":
Cute little catch phrases seen on little signs and decor everywhere this time of year (see above!) Sometimes it seems a little forced or fake. Sometimes being thankful sits at surface level, doesn't it? Someone asks you what you are thankful for, and something totally normal comes out- like, "my house", or "my family", or "the food". While certainly it is good to be thankful for those things, I wonder why we find it so difficult to give thanks for the deep, emotional, heart-wrenching things.
Because if I am honest, those are the things which have driven me to God.
The times of confusion and fear and pain which I would ordinarily be glad to not re-live are those very things which have brought me to the throne. That is the place where I have found grace. Mercy. Help.
The dry and desolate places have been where my faith has grown and where I have found my heart desperate for more of God. As I have reflected on moments and times of pain, I find myself being grateful for those even more so than the everyday joys.
And, I think that's because the painful allows us to see the everyday with greater thankfulness because we understand what those everyday moments mean.
It means God brought you through that heartache. God brought you through that depression or pain. God carried you through those deep waters, and as you look back and remember, the happy things now are the offshoot of the hard things.
And maybe the hard things are still fresh and deep and real this Thanksgiving. Maybe the losses still bring pain and the worries and anxieties persist. Your heart is crying in its loneliness, and God seems far away.
I have been reading through some of Jesus' miracles- specifically, the healing of the ten lepers and the healing of the woman with the issue of blood.
I find it interesting to note that in both these miracles, while the bodily healing was granted to them, what Jesus emphasizes is their faith makes them well. When the ten lepers were healed one came back and gave thanks and praise; Jesus declares hia faith made him well. When the woman was healed, and she admits to having touched Jesus in faith to be healed, Jesus commends her for her faith.
Where is our faith in these pain-filled moments? Are we coming to Jesus in faith that he will heal, and restore, and carry us through what we're facing? Or do we just want the quick fix?
Many of the people who crowded around Jesus wanted the quick fix. They wanted the glitz and glamor of being near Jesus and getting the "free meals". But, what Jesus offers us is seen more clearly as we come in the sorrow and pain and loneliness. Here we find Jesus to be more than the "quick fix". It is in the desperate acts of faith, the anguished pleas for help that our beliefs and faith merge into the glorious hope he brings. We are made clean. We are made new. We are brought into greater depths of healing and joy as he takes our pain and compounds it with his peace. This is what he came to do. This was his plan from the beginning- to feel all the pains and sorrows and to understand the heartaches. He was crushed and broken and alone and despised. He was rejected and misunderstood. He was abandoned and stricken and forsaken. (See Isaiah 53)
And he did it for our healing.
So whatever this Thanksgiving means and brings to your hearts and mind, may you take some time to reflect on the greatest blessings you have received.
Take a moment and give thanks for the hard things, the faith-testing, endurance-building moments that have brought you closer to Jesus.
May you rejoice that you have a Savior who has endured all things for your sake. May you be grateful for the One who understands every pain and heartache you feel so that you might be healed.
Come to him with all your burdens and may your heart find true healing and blessing in the One who bids you find rest for your soul.
He knows every part, every pain, every joy, every moment and loves you in each one. So, come. Let us give thanks together.
What things are you truly grateful for? Share them!
Song for Meditation: