Happy Thanksgiving! What a year. 2020 has been filled with ups and downs. I know many of us are facing an unusual Thanksgiving Day that is far from normal. I share this blog post with so much love in my heart for you. In the hard circumstances of life, you are seen and loved!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, New International Version) Think how often we ask the question, “Lord, what is your plan for my life?” I love a simple answer! We are to give thanks no matter what is going on in our lives.
To be honest, sometimes being thankful is hard. Instead of saying “thank you,” we would rather ask the question, “Why did this have to happen to me?” Questions are normal especially during hard times. If we don’t ask the hard questions, we may not be working towards a place of healing and acceptance. Let’s not forget that the book of Psalm is full of gut-wrenching questions. David asked, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:1-2) David shared honest questions in the middle of hard times. I will go on the record and say I’m glad he did. When things are hard, we need a safe place where we can be real.
During hard times it’s easy to focus on what is missing from our lives. Maybe it’s a relationship, a resource, or an opportunity. These missing pieces can leave us feeling left out and forgotten.
How can we give thanks in all circumstances? What an important question to consider as we wrap up 2020. I have one idea to share with you. Instead of focusing on what is missing, let’s focus on all the ways God is present and providing!
I was reminded of this truth a couple of years ago at a women’s conference in Northeast
Arkansas. I love traveling around Arkansas and meeting women. On this day, I was talking to a group of ladies and we were sharing our life stories. One lady made a lasting impression on me. First, let me tell you that she was 99 years old. That’s right—-99 years old and still attending women’s conferences! She shared about a hard time in her life. Following 52 years of marriage, her husband was tragically killed in an accident. She shared her feelings and questions in the days following the accident.
In the midst of her grieving process, the Lord reminded her of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and the call to give thanks in all circumstances. She asked the Lord, “How can I give thanks when I just lost my husband?” This precious lady shared God’s answer with our group. She said, “The Lord reminded me to focus on the 52 years of marriage that we had together.” I wish you could have been in that circle listening to this sweet lady share her story. The passion in her voice left me speechless. This sweet lady had not only learned this truth, but she had also lived this truth. Year after year following her husband’s sudden death, she found a way to give thanks.
Now, as the time draws near for this sweet lady to be reunited with her husband in heaven, the peace in her life speaks volumes about her relationship with God. She knows God is real and His ways are good. She knows that looking to the Lord for strength will get you through the most difficult circumstance. She has lived out giving thanks in all circumstances by focusing on all the ways God was present and providing in the midst of her pain.
Are you in the middle of a hard time? If so, God sees you and He is with you. Ask God to show you all of the ways He is present and providing in your difficult spot. As you do, you will find that peace is not the absence of problems but rather the assurance that God is with you no matter what you face. Today as you long to follow God’s plan, simply stop and give thanks.