Today is a day that we all set aside time with family to reminisce, eat lots of food, and make lots of new memories. All of these things make me thankful; from the delicious pecan pies my grandmother makes, to watching my children play with cousins they don’t see often, and enjoying the company of family all at the same time. It’s so easy to be thankful for the obvious, the easy part of life, or the many blessings we don’t deserve. But how often do we really appreciate the hard times? The times that push us to our breaking point, when we’ve lost our cool for the zillionth time with our kids or husband, the nights we’ve cried ourselves to sleep, the days that we feel lost, lonely, unappreciated, not good enough? Should we be thankful for these times? James tells us in James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Being thankful for the hard part of life is not something that comes naturally. We have to remember that it’s these hard times that bring us closer in our relationship with our Savior, the only one that can mend, protect, fulfill, comfort, calm, provide, love us no matter what, restore, and free us from these troubles. During these times he is able to refine us and mold us to be more like him with grace, love, and patience. We are able to (with the Holy Spirit’s guidance) realize the areas that need tweaking or even a complete overhaul. It’s these times that bring us closer to those we love. It matures us in ways that we wish we could have saved our younger selves from so much grief. Psalm 34:18 reminds us that
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
In reading one of my favorite authors, Lysa Terkhurst, in her book Uninvited, she tells of a line of blessing in her Father-n-law’s prayer at their wedding.
Lord, give them enough hurts to keep them human and enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours.”
Sure, at first it doesn’t sound like anyone would want to have asked for heartbreak at their wedding, but Lysa shares that she has come to realize that we shouldn’t
… let what breaks your heart destroy your life. Hold fast to Jesus and remember: This breaking of you will be the making of you. A new you. A stronger you. Strengthened not with the pride of perfection but with the sweet grace of one who knows an intimate closeness with her Lord.
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Psalm 34:19-20.
Today we should celebrate the easy and the obvious, but may we also appreciate and be grateful for the refining and molding that we have been through that made us who we are. The new us. The stronger us. The one He calls his beloved, righteous, and friend.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!