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 (NIV)
November comes with all sorts of opportunities to express thankfulness. The things at the top of my “Things I’m Thankful For” list are not surprising. They include salvation, family, friends, church, home, and career. These have not changed in years and I doubt they will change in the future. However, the things further down my list have changed significantly as time has passed.
For example, my parents’ divorce ranks high on the list now. For most of my life, I considered myself and my family damaged beyond repair because my parents don’t love each other.
Divorce broke our family.
That is for certain.
Divorce is NOT God’s plan…also for certain.
Even so, I have grown to be thankful, not for my parents’ divorce, but for what God did in spite of it and through it and even because of it. He gave me two sets of parents who love me dearly and four sets of grandparents who do as well. He gave me siblings, nieces and nephews I’d not have otherwise. While my parents’ divorce is something that caused me pain for years, I eventually saw the blessings that God has given me because of it and, while I would love for my parents to have had a “happily ever after,” I have become deeply grateful for the family I’ve been given as a result of their divorce.
The deep gratitude I feel for my parents’ divorce is very different from the joy-filled thankfulness I feel for my family and friends. It is borne out of brokenness and sorrow and despair. It is gratitude felt deep in my soul and is seasoned with sadness and loss. Other things that evoke this same deep gratitude include a miscarriage, the death of my Nan, the failure of my business and having cancer. None are things I would have chosen. None were things I enjoyed. None bring a smile to my face or cause my heart to leap for joy. Had I not trusted God’s plan and goodness, any of these circumstances would have filled me with utter despair and hopelessness, but when I trusted God with these dark moments, He put a deep gratitude in my heart and taught me to thank Him ALL circumstances.
If your thankfulness this November is shrouded in a cloak of sorrow, grief, loss, bitterness, hopelessness or despair, find peace in this…. God knows. He has a plan for you. I don’t know what it is, but I do know it is not for you to be lost in your grief. I know that He can turn your brokenness into a deep gratitude and replace your despair with peace. If you find yourself drowning, consider this your lifeline: God Almighty loves you and just because you don’t understand or can’t see His plan doesn’t mean He doesn’t have one. God knows your loss. It is bad enough that life has brought you to a place of loss. It is an absolute travesty for you to stay there. Trust God to heal your brokenness and to soothe your weary soul and then enter this season of Thanksgiving with a deep gratitude for the God who carries us through dark times and restores our brokenness.
May I pray for you?
I come to you on behalf of this precious reader. Lord, you know exactly what causes her heart to grieve. You know the loss she suffers. You know her brokenness. Father, I trust you with her fragile heart. I know that you are gentle and loving and good and I know that you have a plan for her life. I know that you can restore her and change her loss to a story of redemption. Lord, I pray that you mend her heart, heal all the broken pieces of her soul, and fill her to overflowing with your love. Make your presence be known to her. Wrap your arms around her and give her YOUR peace in the middle of her storms.