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Happy Thanksgiving: Finding Joy

 

Family Thanksgiving

 

On Thanksgiving Eve, it seems only fitting that I write a thankful post. But since I have promised that I will always be transparent with you, my readers, I confess that this is not an easy post to write.

This has been a tough year–probably the toughest one of my life. There were deep hurts; fractured relationships; shattered dreams; and life-changing, gut-wrenching, soul-searching trials. There were times when I cried out to God for understanding and wisdom and other times when I turned my back on Him, certain that He had forsaken me anyway.

But there was also grace. And peace. And love. Relationships restored, although still on shaky ground. A new life embraced. New friendships made. New opportunities presented. And a renewed hope found.

Today, I was speaking with a friend who is going through some of the same trials that I have faced this past year, and she asked me, “How do you forget what happened to you?”

I can’t forget. And I don’t think that God calls us to that. We can forgive, but our human nature very rarely allows us to forget. Oh, we may push it to the back of our mind, but then something triggers a memory, and the pain is refreshed as we remember.

But I’ve been searching the Scriptures, trying to find a reason for God allowing these trials and praying about how I should respond. To be honest, I wasn’t really happy with what I found because my flesh wants vengeance and justice for the wrongs that have been done. But God points me in another direction:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (Jas. 1:2-4).

Count it ALL joy. Those words have stopped me in my tracks more times than I can count. To have joy in the trials? To be joyful in the testing? To find joy when someone sins against me? How can that be?

I’m still searching for those answers. But this I know: I serve the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They believed His promises would be fulfilled, even though they had no idea that He would send His Son to perform miracles and die on the cross for their sins. They had no idea if He would fulfill His promises to them, yet they trusted and believed and didn’t see the fulfillment of those promises while they still lived. So, I trust Him to be faithful in fulfilling His promises to me.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).

I share these things with you on the eve of Thanksgiving because maybe you’re searching as I am. Maybe you want to so desperately to find some joy in your sorrow, some hope in your hopelessness. I know that holidays are difficult for so many people, so I want to encourage you while encouraging myself.

Find one thing to be thankful for. There has to be SOMETHING. Hold onto it and ask God to reveal more ways to find joy. And here is my prayer for you (and me):

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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