Thanksgiving is sweet. Some say it’s the last pure holiday in that there isn’t a perverse commercialism attached to it and other than overt gluttony, we can appreciate most aspects of the day with joy and gladness.
Some years are not so thankful. I’ve felt that. This year, I am so very grateful for so many things and all in all it’s been a good year. Ups and downs. Heartaches and confusion. But when we sit in church and people share what they’re thankful for, we don’t often hear things like that. Some people are honest and real. I appreciate these people more and more with every year. I think if we’re going to make it in any sense of that phrase in this time in this society, we’re going to have to get a lot more honest and real.
I am thankful for the down sides. I am thankful for the times I’ve felt alone and discarded. I am thankful for feeling abandoned. I am thankful for the despair. I am thankful for these things because they drove me to the pit and it’s in the pit that I saw Jesus most clearly. Jesus was in the pit. Waiting for me. To show me how far his love would go and how deep.
I am thankful for the ways in which people fail. I am thankful for the times I have been abused. I am thankful for the mishandling of my friendships. I am thankful for the people who were less than supportive. I am thankful that I have experienced tremendous loss and discouragement at the hands of others, because it was in these moments I discovered that all my hope was in the wrong people. that even those with the very best of intentions were not my saviors. They tried. They failed. This is grace to me because there is only one Savior and the sooner I came to that conclusion, the better.
I am thankful for the pain and dark that brought my husband to me. It doesn’t sound right to say that, but I know he agrees because we’ve talked about it. We both hate the circumstances that made him single. We hate the sin and deceit that caused him such sorrow and despair. But we also love how God takes the plans of (wo)mankind and turns them into our good – how very much He loves us, how He guides us as we stay faithful and in His will, and how He gives us good gifts.
I am thankful for the times where I have been confronted by my own sinfulness and capacity to deceive others, myself, and my feeble attempts to keep secrets from God. I am thankful for situations that have humbled me, on the brink of humiliation but graciously forgiven and heard out and understood and redeemed. I am thankful for the opportunity to face my hard-heartedness and blind spots, allowing God to remove the planks and give me more clarity and honesty to deal with myself and to grow in faith and dependence on Jesus.
These are hard thanks givings. But I give thanks for the hard things because what other way would I learn? What other way is there to go? We don’t grow through comfort. We don’t learn through ease. We won’t live better, more clearly, more lovingly, more graciously. We stagnate. We diminish. We’ll never be thankful enough. We’ll never be strong enough. We’ll never be kind enough. These are the things I want to be. These are the things I want to model for my beautiful children. These are the things I want to be known for when I am gone. Thankful. Strong. Kind. to the glory of God.
Praying for you, reader, right now. That you will find true thanksgiving even in the midst of the dark. It is exactly there where your heart will find the Object of the truest, and highest, praise.