Thank you for celebrating Thirty Days of Thanks with me! I pray you've been encouraged and blessed by something you've read here over the last 30 days and that you continue to give thanks throughout the Christmas season and into the New Year!
I'm ending our thirty days with a story of thanksgiving that leaves me humbled and in awe. My friend Denise Steyaert has chronicled her son Shawn's life on the blog Shaun's Story. This is her latest entry.
"Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your name, Jesus,
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
blessed be your glorious name.
You give and take away,
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be Your name!"
We are coming upon the holiday season and Thanksgiving is a time where we again reflect on what we have to be grateful for. Prayers are said, thankfulness is expressed and we celebrate God’s blessings once again on Thanksgiving Day. On this day it is relatively easy to conjure up these warm feelings in our heart. Isn’t that the whole point of the day?
As this season approaches, I am reminded that we are to recognize the blessings in our life each day. Lots are taking the Facebook challenge of 30 days of gratitude. Thankfulness is not a once a year novelty or one month a year. I believe we need to daily cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Scripture tells us, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank Him because you believe in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).We are to give thanks in all things, not some things, not just the great and wonderful things, but in everything.
Does that mean I am thankful if my car gets totaled? Well, I can be thankful that I wasn’t hurt. What about the really tough things in life like losing a job, a home, or the death of a loved one? Ouch! Thankfulness? Seriously? Oh I know we can say the right, “spiritual” thing in such circumstances. It’s harder to have a thankful heart in the circumstance. God isn’t saying to be thankful that something awful has happened. He knows we are human, we get hurt, we lose hope, and suffer grief. No, rather he wants us to give thanks in the face of it. Paul told the Philippians "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Most of you know my story. What you don't know is the joy that came in the trial. When in the hospital at the end of Shaun's life, God was there and He taught me to be thankful in all things. We had just finished the Ann Voskamp study, 1000 gifts, and in it she says to live Euchristeo, Thanksgiving. So I learned to believe "God is good, and He loves me" all the time. Then in the midst of all the trials, learning that my son had the same disease that took my daughter to heaven 9 years earlier, in the midst of my sorrow, I found myself doing a peculiar thing. I was able to be thankful. Losing a child at any age is an unbearable burden, an indescribable despair. My sorrow was long and deep. Some moments I didn't want to or I couldn't see anything I wanted to be thankful for. In those moments I would thank God for the sun, the gift of sight, smell, touch, family. Then as my heart was opened because I was obedient to being thankful, not living in my sorrow, He let my eyes see more. I started to be thankful for Shaun's testimony, to be able to have praise music on and the nurses and doctors hear, to be able to share my hope in Jesus with people I would not have met if we were not in this situation. To live in Euchristeo.
I am thankful for the 23 months I had with Shaun, for the 10 months I had with Sarah. I was thankful that the nurses that were taking care of us felt God’s presence in our room. Although they didn’t understand it, they expressed what peace and love they experienced around us, that we were “different” somehow. I am thankful that God was glorified in the midst of our sorrow. I was thankful for the time God gave me with my little ones before they went to Home. I am thankful for the hope I have that I will see them whole with Jesus one day. Don't get me wrong. Its hard with the holiday season approaching. In fact I battled depression and thoughts of running away from the holidays~ not celebrating them at all. But then the still small voice inside said, "I love you. Look to Me. I will be with you. Trust me. Live in Euchristeo." Now, today, in the face of my pain, I am able to give thanks. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Maybe this past year you are one of the millions who have lost their job, maybe your house is in foreclosure, perhaps you, like me, have lost one dear to your heart. This may be a season of grief and loss for you, but please know that you have a hope that does not disappoint. For you have a Father who understands you. He comforts the brokenhearted. He promises to never leave you or forsake you. His love is poured out upon you. "Be glad in the Lord, you righteous ones, and give thanks to His holy name." (Psalm 97:12) His love never fails. Your sadness may last for a time, but joy will come, “But Joy comes in the morning, You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing” (Psalm 30:5). Live Euchristeo. Oh what we have to be thankful for. Such a great God! Such a great love!
From Jesus Calling:
Let THANKFULNESS RULE in your heart. As you thank Me for blessings in your life, a marvelous thing happens. It is as if scales fall off your eyes,enabling you to see more and more of My glorious riches. With your eyes thus opened, you can help yourself to whatever you need from My treasure house. Each time you receive one of My golden gifts, let your thankfulness sing out praises to My name. "Hallelujahs" are the language of heaven, and they can become the language of your heart.
A life of praise and thankfulness become a life filled with miracles. Instead of trying to be in control, you focus on Me and what I am doing. This is the power of praise: centering your entire being in ME. This is how I created you to live, for I made you in My own image. Enjoy abundant life by overflowing with praise and thankfulness.
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
4 "Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.''
As we give thanks for all His gifts, our hearts are prepared to celebrate The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Jesus. I'm so excited to read this daily devotional beginning tomorrow, Sunday, December 1. We will be discussing it at Winsome Reads Facebook book club. Join us!
Get your copy of The Greatest Gift!