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?
As this season approaches, I am reminded that we are to recognize the blessings in our life each day. Lots are taking the Facebook challenge of 30 days of gratitude. Thankfulness is not a once a year novelty or one month a year. 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 just 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. Paul told the Philippians “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Most of you know my story. What you don’t know is the joy that came in the trial. When in the hospital at the end of Shaun’s life, God was there and He taught me to be thankful in all things. We had just finished the Ann Voskamp study, 1000 gifts, and in it she says to live Euchristeo, Thanksgiving. So I learned to believe “God is good, and He loves me” all the time. Then in the midst of all the trials, learning that my son had the same disease that took my daughter to heaven 9 years earlier, in the midst of my sorrow, I found myself doing a peculiar thing. I was able to be thankful. Losing a child at any age is an unbearable burden, an indescribable despair. My sorrow was long and deep. Some moments I didn’t want to or I couldn’t see anything I wanted to be thankful for. In those moments I would thank God for the sun, the gift of sight, smell, touch, family. Then as my heart was opened because I was obedient to being thankful, not living in my sorrow, He let my eyes see more. I started to be thankful for Shaun’s testimony, to be able to have praise music on and the nurses and doctors hear, to be able to share my hope in Jesus with people I would not have met if we were not in this situation. To live in Euchristeo.
I am thankful for the 23 months I had with Shaun, for the 10 months I had with Sarah. 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. I was thankful for the time God gave me with my little ones before they went to Home. I am thankful for the hope I have that I will see them whole with Jesus one day. Don’t get me wrong. Its hard with the holiday season approaching. In fact I battled depression and thoughts of running away from the holidays~ not celebrating them at all. But then the still small voice inside said, “I love you. Look to Me. I will be with you. Trust me. Live in Euchristeo.” Now, today, in the face of my pain, I am able to give thanks. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
A life of praise and thankfulness become a life filled with miracles. Instead of trying to be in control, you focus on Me and what I am doing. This is the power of praise: centering your entire being in ME. This is how I created you to live, for I made you in My own image. Enjoy abundant life by overflowing with praise and thankfulness.
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