I hope that you had a day full of family, laughter, good food and thanksgiving. I know that my day consisted of those things. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the things that I’m thankful for. Topping the list were thing like: grace, forgiveness and my family. And then there were other things like clean drinking water, an education and access to healthcare. And then my mind drifted to a common prayer of thanksgiving in Liberia--”thank you God for life and breath.” Yes, God, thank you for life and breath.
But as I laid in bed this morning, thinking about things that I’m thankful for, my mind kept wandering away from the good stuff. I couldn’t help but think about the bad, hard and difficult. Times over the last few years where things seemed impossible, or I felt like I couldn’t take any more heartache. I thought about sickness, poverty, unfairness, loss and death. Faces of dearly loved friends, who have passed away without any explanation danced in my mind. Things that don’t or can’t make sense, or that prove just how much evil is in this world.
At first, I wanted to go back to the things--happy, good things--that I am incredibly grateful for. I wanted to celebrate with thanksgiving about God’s provision and protection. Or remember the miracles that have happened in my own life, or in the lives of those around me. But then God began to reveal something unexpected.
He began to speak to me about all of those bad, hard and difficult things. He began to whisper--be thankful for ALL things, because it ALL comes from Me. Once you make it through trying times, you eventually get to a place where you’re able to turn around and look back and see how God was present every step of the way. And that’s what I found myself doing this morning. Rejoicing in and thanking Him for the bad. I am able to see His presence in those difficult times. And I’m continuing to understand that He is always with me. And I’m continuing to believe that He does work all things together for our good.
I am thankful for the difficult, hard and messy because I am continuing to learn that all of it is for my good and for His glory. I am able to find joy and thanksgiving, even when the good is missing. It’s a huge lesson to learn, but it’s also one that will wreck you and draw you closer to the Father at the same time. He is my good and faithful Father. And for that I am thankful!
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18