It doesn’t take long to be caught in the sea of gloom as enormous waves seem to capsize us: A faltering marriage, financial strain, struggling children, family discord, radical extremists who demonstrate time and time again their belief that life means nothing, or the recent controversy including the mayor of Houston, Texas who targeted five pastors for their uncompromised stance on key issues that appear “anti” and “polarizing.” How easy it is to grow angry, bitter, hopeless, fear-filled, and trapped.
As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, there is much to be thankful for amidst the trials you may be facing. This time of year, as our vehicle travels from one spot to the next, we listen to The Stories of the Pilgrims and I am reminded of the many trials they faced. What would they have said they were thankful for despite the many trials they were up against in England? Their homes were being burned, they were worshipping in utter secret (often in the dark). Fear of being found and taken to prison was always looming in the back of their minds and then, just when they thought they had escaped this life of many hardships, they were found and taken to prison (men, women, and children alike). What kept them thankful? They were thankful for their faith and the opportunity to demonstrate that nothing was more important to them than their Lord. He was being glorified in it all. They also had hope in a brighter future and they never lost sight of that. Why else would a person continue to endure such times?
I wonder if they ever clung to what the Apostle Paul did when he wrote, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:12-13). How often must they have basked over Phil 4:6 which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Or perhaps echoed Peter when he wrote , “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith– of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire– may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, you you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1Peter 1:6-9). Even when happiness is lacking, joy and thanksgiving can be abounding.
Perhaps this Thanksgiving will be a blessed, peaceful, thank-filled time in your home. Praise Him! However, if you are one who can relate to any of the items listed at the beginning of this devotional and are struggling to be thankful, remember this truth:
“Do no fear, for I am with you;
Do not be anxiously looking about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Rest assured, He will be with you in your trials each and every step of the way. He will provide joy when happiness is nowhere in sight. When all else seems lost, He remains.
Wishing you all a joy-filled Thanksgiving.