I have spent the last couple of days preparing to share in church a little something about Thanksgiving, and the timing was interesting because for the last couple of days the weather has been gloomy, rainy and very windy and I have to say that like so many people around here, my mood has gone right along with the weather.
So, I sat with my cup of coffee and peered out with heavy cheeks at the blustering day. There a few terrified leaves fell and were swept to a place I couldn’t see from my window, and in a moment of melancholic tragedy I exclaimed to my pitying self that I felt like one of those leaves being tossed to and fro in the raging wind, only taking detours from my final destination…the ground. I hope I’m not the only one who can be that pathetic!
This year has been tough and last year was tough too. Trials have come one after another and even overlapped each other on several occasions. I’ve become accustomed to moments of brief rest before the testing of my faith begins yet again. I know that testing grows us, but honestly I’ve wondering how much “growing” one person can possibly need…don’t answer that!
For inspiration I read over my family’s Thanksgiving letters from last year. I usually have everyone write a simple note of what we’re thankful for but I don’t think I’ve ever actually gone back to them until this week. There is something to remembering what we have and counting our blessings. I laughed to see that three out of five children were thankful for candy last year and the rest were sweet as well. At the time we were struggling with the shock of our situation. Being in the building industry we were hit early by the economic downturn and most of what I wrote in my own letter focused on what we had left. I was thankful that we had our health and our home and family and friends.
As this financial trial has continued, honestly being more of a “life” trial the feeling of defeat and the loss of hope have definitely settled upon me. And that’s where this sorry leaf analogy comes in. I’m definitely in a different place this year and I haven’t decided if it’s better or worse.
You see I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what the bible says. The bible says to trust in Him, look to Him, keep my eyes focused on Him, and for the weak and weary there is no shortage of promises, in fact I believe every answer we need is there in God’s Word. But keeping faith and keeping focused are not easy to do when things are pressing at us from every direction. It’s not easy when the possibility of things turning around slips farther and farther away. Honestly there comes a point of giving up on circumstances and lettings things go.
In the middle of my leaf word picture I realized that there is something that I hold onto when everything else is hopeless. I might be heading down to the ground, but God is an expert at raising things from the dead. He takes dead things and breaths life into them, infuses them with His power and His glory and when He resurrects something it is eternally better than how it was before.
Jesus was crucified, but He rose from the grave, He conquered death for all of us and He is living in His glorified body. He saved us by that atoning work and when I think about what He has saved me from, I want nothing more than to serve Him daily!
He saved me at a young age, calling my name and I’m thankful I listened. His grace filled the gaps in my dysfunctional family as He comforted my pain and covered my shame. My despair and unbelief led me to a life of parties and drugs and He saved me from the destruction of my own making. I was alone and He restored to me a family with ample room for grace to be lived out daily. He restored to me my little girl dream of having a godly husband and lots of children. He took me in my brokenness, in my depression and despair and turned those ashes into a thing of beauty as I’m able to understand and know firsthand what so many women struggle with today.
What I am most thankful for though, is that while I may feel blown around in the wind and while I may lose faith, give up, lose sight of the Truth, screw up, fail, you get the point, God does NOT change. And His power is made perfect through our weaknesses. Not in spite of them, but THROUGH them! That’s grace! The same power that conquered death is in us, through His Spirit.
Something that remains on my list from year to year is my thankfulness for friends and family; people who fed us when we were hungry and clothed us when we needed it and I’m thankful that we have the opportunity to do that for others.
My challenge this Thanksgiving is to dwell on who He is, remember how He saved you and serve Him daily.