When Being Thankful Seems Hard

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If you look back on my last few posts, you’ll discover a pattern.

I’ve woven the word steal into my text a few times.

In the article I wrote for FullFill Magazine I used the word rob–same thing.

My point was to help us realize that nothing can rob our joy or steal our thankfulness.

I mentioned in Don’t Let Them Steal Thanksgiving (part 1) and Don’t Let Them Steal Thanksgiving (part 2) that in the world of advertising and retail–the focus is to get our attention on the next best thing to buy and they zip right past Thanksgiving and into Christmas often before the end of October.

I’m a true fan of Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday that isn’t surrounded by purchasing gifts and commercialism.

For me Thanksgiving means gathering the family around the table, with a delicious spread of food, conversation, laughter and love.  When I sit back and enjoy the day, all I have to do is look at the people who are sharing it with me and give thanks.

However I realize that for some this whole season, beginning in November through the end of December, is the hardest time of year to make it through.

Recently I spoke to a woman who is contemplating divorce.  She has a fractured family and her pain runs deep.  The Norman Rockwell images of family and home can haunt a person in her circumstances especially at this time of year.

My husband knows a young man who lost his father at the tender age of 15 mo. and struggles in a difficult relationship with his mother.  His feelings of loss and abandonment are real and they intensify starting in mid-November.

Some people are separated from family by miles and can’t make it home.  Some are estranged from family for various reasons.

Those who have lost loved ones, during this season, carry that reminder with them every year while trying to wear a smile.  A loved one’s passing (at anytime of the year) can create a deeper void during the holidays.

I’ve heard people gloss over others’ pain with the trite remark, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” as if somehow those words are ointment that can heal a wound.

First of all that statement cannot be found anywhere in the Bible.  This imperfect world sometimes gives us more than we can handle and if we rely on “The God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” theology then the question becomes “how am I going to handle this?”  The emphasis is put on I.  That sort of ointment doesn’t work.

So what works?  The healing ointment of grace and mercy from Jesus–that works.

Jesus Himself told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  He said we would have trouble not that we might have trouble.

His overcoming power is available to help us through any obstacle, hardship or painful situation and that’s something we can always be thankful for.

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When we are weak He is strong.  That’s what 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us.  In other words, when we tell the Lord that WE CAN’T HANDLE IT–whatever IT is–that opens up the connection for His resurrection power to flow.

That’s the key.  It’s how we lean and how we wait during the blackest of days that gets us through them.  Leaning on God, waiting on Him and looking for even the tiniest things to give thanks for restores hope and joy.

If we keep seeking Him through prayer–even when we doubt that he is there–even with our questions–our load becomes lighter, because in the seeking and the waiting we start expecting.

We become expectant for the arrival of an answer, a direction, a change in us, a change in circumstances, and just plain help.  Whatever form it takes, it will come and we start believing that truth while we seek and wait.

Sometimes taking a look back at our lives helps.  Pause for a moment in that place that seemed dark at one time.  It’s good to recall how God took the ashes (adversities) and made something beautiful out of them.  This practice always helps me when I’m in a troubling season, because it reminds me that what He did once He will do again.

In Isaiah 61 He promises a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

So this Thanksgiving I hope that we can all find something that we are thankful for even if it’s just giving thanks that God has seen us through difficult days before and He will do it again.

Written by: Nancy Janiga ©2014

4 thoughts on “When Being Thankful Seems Hard

    1. I’ve been thinking about this for several weeks but wasn’t sure if I should post it. I actually wrote it with a specific person in mind who has touched my heart and has been in my prayers lately. I appreciate your comment. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Tom!

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  1. I find it’s helpful to reflect on the times God helped me OR someone ELSE through a tough time. But it begins with a prayer, regardless of how short or with how little strength I left, then God works in my heart to change my attitude:-)
    Started my morning with your encouraging journal entry:-) Thanks!
    Feeling grateful!

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    1. That’s good Vickie–“It begins with a prayer, regardless of how short or with how little strength I have left.” I know what you mean about an attitude change. Sometimes we just need God’s perspective on things. Thanks you for your comment. God Bless!

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