'Tis the season for giving thanks, and we all have gratitude to express.
But some years bear more weight than others, and when the season of joy and thanks rolls around, our hearts grow hard and bitter about what we've had to go through in the past year.
2019 was a whirlwind for us. We started a business. My husband switched jobs, and I walked away from work that I loved to take the opportunity to work from home. We (finally) got pregnant, then lost the baby in a matter of weeks. 2019 dished out lots of change and challenges that both thrilled and destroyed us. Yet somehow, we've arrived intact at the season of Thanksgiving near the close of the year.
My heart's default setting is to complain about what I don't have in comparison to others. When I see new families smiling in Christmas cards, my heart grows bitter and hard. I was supposed to be sending out that card this year. I get upset when I think about what I gave up in order to serve differently from home. We took some pay cuts to make this work, but for what? I allow myself to divulge into a tailspin of doubt and self-pity, blinding myself from the joy and many blessings I do have.
Have you ever felt this way? Has your year been such a difficult whirlwind that you feel bitter this time of year? You're certainly not alone - but let's call it what it is. It's ungratefulness. It's sin.
Giving Thanks Always, for Everything
In Ephesians 5:20, Paul gives the instruction to give thanks to God "always and for everything." So, does that mean we should continually strive to be optimists, always looking for the silver lining in bad situations? Or is Paul actually telling us to thank God for the things that have nearly ruined us?
Is Paul telling me to thank God for my miscarriage? Or for taking your loved one too soon? For the loss of a job or a painful divorce? Should you really give thanks for that empty chair at the Thanksgiving table?
The simple answer: yes.
Why? Because the whole of our lives are to be a living, breathing testimony to what God has already done for us. He deserves our constant thanksgiving for redeeming us from the darkness of our sin. Even though it grinds against our human nature, we can thank Him for these difficult circumstances because He promises that all things, even the hard things, work together for our good (Romans 8:28).
When God orchestrates the trials that affect your life, He is also equipping you with the Spirit, shaping you more and more into His likeness. So as you reflect on your year, including all its blessings and trials, you can thank God for everything. He is sanctifying and preparing your heart for the eternal joy you long for, even in the events that broke your heart.
God is good.
And although I fight my own bitterness, jealousy, and ungratefulness this Thanksgiving season, I know that the Lord is refining me. I pray the same for you, that through the circumstances you have been dealt this year, you will be able to give thanks in all things, for everything. He is good, He is worthy, and He is continuing to write your story. And for that, we can be thankful.
Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving season,