Giving Thanks in Difficult Times

FallI write this on a day when the sun is shining. It is a brief interlude in the gray skies which have covered us these last days.  On a day like today, it is easy to be grateful for the goodness of our creator. Yet, I remember other days. Days when gratitude did not come easily and Thanksgiving was a sorrowful reminder of what used to be. In a season of Thanksgiving, how can we be thankful when we hurt and grieve . . . When our celebrations were yesterday, while today bears painful reminders of loss and separation from people we love?

How can you be thankful when your life has taken painful turns, your heart is torn by grief, and you would most like to pass the day hiding out in a corner . . .where no one would challenge you to “Count your Blessings?” Even the apostle Paul chimes in telling us to “In everything give thanks.” I Thessalonians 5:18

There have been moments in my life, when thanksgiving was the furthest thing from my mind. Sorrow and heartache, loss and pain were the constants of that time and era. I didn’t find thanksgiving coming easily into my heart. There were Thanksgiving Seasons I simply wished away. I’ve come to understand this passage from Thessalonians does not mean “Give God thanks that you child is hurting, your marriage is troubled, your spouse is sick, your business is going under or you’ve lost your job.” as if through superhuman effort, we can prove our bravery and acceptance of evil events in our lives. Rather it is Paul’s way of expressing that even in life’s most difficult circumstances, we have reason to give God thanks.

Why? Because God never stops loving us. There are people who care and care deeply. Each reach of love is God’s way of saying, “I know you hurt and I’ll be with you all the way through this terrible ordeal.” Whenever an act of love is received, a tear shared with a friend, a burden lessened, a note received, a prayer said for us, God is at work, reminding us that we are not alone. They are evidence of God’s continuing presence in our lives.

Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving, know God’s faithful love holds you,  and is carrying you through every trial. 

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