Giving thanks through gritted teeth

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. – 1 Chron. 16:34

If I were to buy into what I see and read, Thanksgiving is a time of stress.  It’s become less a time to be thankful for what we have, and more just a time to be thankful we survived.  It’s like running the marathon and crossing the finish line and being grateful it’s over instead of noticing the things around you.  The courage of others, the kindness of strangers or even your own effort to persevere.

I know life is hard.

I’ve witnessed first and second hand some seasons of life that seem so contrary to life created by and watched over by a loving Father.  To hold onto hope, to hold onto faith in the midst of a storm can be challenging, yet regardless of what we face God is with us.  There is a plan for us.  God was there in the beginning, and whether we acknowledge His presence in the face of difficulties or cry out because we feel forsaken, He is there.  We are boats created not to stay in the safety of the harbor forever, but to face uncertainty of the waters of life.  Yet it also feels like when we’re being battered by the storm that we’re never to find refuge and comfort in the harbor, yet that’s not true either.  It feels like it, but it’s an accurate representation.  Life isn’t meant to be one long uphill battle, yet in times of difficulty it’s easy to forget about the times of unapologetic joy.

Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

How many Psalms resonate like this one for many of us?  This one in particular sounds like one of my journal entries (though far more eloquent and without the misspellings that auto-correct can’t solve for me).  The sense of longing even in the depths of despair.  Questioning God, which seems unthinkable or blasphemous, maybe even asking God to just end our misery if this is our lot in life.  Then coming back to a place even in our despair, to not just thank God but to sing the Lord’s praises.  To feel a love so unfailing in our heart that it radiates outward.

In all things God is there, and I know it’s difficult to give thanks when it seems like I’ve been forgotten or unheard, or worse, unloved.  But I cling to hope too in those times, and am reminded that His love endures forever.  I encourage you to ask for help if you need it because the Lord your God loves you at all times, with unwavering steadfastness. We’re not as sheep led to be slaughtered, we’re also more than conquerors.  We’re loved.  We’re chosen.  We’re heard.  You matter, and I pray you remember that.

Romans 8: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Grace, peace and love
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