Thanksgiving. The time of the year to reflect on all that we are thankful for. Yet, for some reason, this year my heart is quite burdened. While I truly am grateful for so much in my life, my heart can’t seem to break free of bearing the burden of so many close to us that are traversing through challenging times. Cancer, illness, wayward children, suicide, financial hardships, addiction, bitter relationships…and all of that is just within the walls of my circle of friends. Mingle in the sinful, divisive climate that bathes our society, and you have cause to feel the weight of the world.
As we gather together over the coming days our minds will naturally reflect upon all that we have to be thankful for. And while it is important for us to reflect and remember that we are truly blessed, while we need to remind ourselves that we indeed have much, will we remember the challenges of this life? Will we allow our thoughts to go back to the tough times? Will we give thanks for those valleys? For the struggles? For the life lessons learned through failures, tears, wrong turns, and mistakes? For us to truly say that we give thanks in all things, we must look at those times where the Lord was at work and call them good.
God’s intervening work in our lives is part of a master plan, a script crafted before our first breath was taken, a course plotted before time began. Rarely are our stories uneventful. They are often dotted with high mountain top experiences and low valley moments. Our natural tendency is to give thanks to the Lord while we stand tall upon the mountain top. We praise Him for victories; we call Him good when all in our life appears good.
But what about those valleys? What about those not-so-lovely moments of life when we are stretched beyond our comfort zone, when we are struggling, when God’s refining work is indeed remaking us? Honestly, calling God good in those times can be challenging. Yet, again, if we believe that God is good, we must acknowledge that He is ALWAYS good.
As I reflect this morning on what I have to be thankful for, I am allowing my mind to go back to the unsavory moments of my life. I am permitting myself the time to remember the low times, the scary times, the times full of tears, uncertainty and anguish. For when I recollect those moments now, I can truly see the goodness of the Lord; I can see how His hand was at work in my life. I can see that His glorious plan for my life was unfolding, and I give thanks.
So today I offer thanks. I give thanks to the Lord for He is keenly aware of me and my state. I give thanks because my life is not insignificant to Him. I give thanks because He cares enough to intervene. I give thanks because He changes paths and makes a new way. I give thanks because I am never too far out of reach. I give thanks because God is not finished with me yet. I give thanks that I can come before Him just as I am so I no longer have to remain just as I am. I am thankful for forgiveness, grace, and mercy. I am thankful for my story…full of miry pits…with its moments of despair and hardships. I give thanks for the gut wrenching moments and extended seasons that have allowed me to see the goodness of God, to see His hand at work in my life, to see hope and change. I thank Him for sickness and loss and failings. I am thankful that I can stand outside of the valley and truly say God is always good.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18