When It’s Hard To Be Thankful

 

It isn’t always easy to be thankful, is it? When physical or emotional pain and/or losses overwhelm us, it can be hard to see through our tears or focus our minds on blessings right in front of us. 

Hagar was an alien and a slave. When her mistress found herself barren, she was given to Abraham to bear a child for her. But dissension escalated, especially after Sarah birthed a child herself. Sarah no longer wanted Hagar’s son around her son Isaac.

Hagar and Ishmael were rejected and sent away to wander in the hot and dry desert with only some water in a skin and some food to sustain them. But the water emptied…

She couldn’t bear to see her son suffer and die of thirst, so she put him under one of the bushes and distanced herself.

Dehydrated and devastated of hope, she sat down and sobbed. Did no one hear her and her son? Did no one care?

“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” Hope heralded in by an Angel of God.

Someone did care. She wasn’t alone. God heard Ishmael’s cries. He heard Hagar’s cries. He hears the cries of the needy.

“For He will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.”
Psalm 72:12

God lifted her drooping head and opened her tear-swollen eyes to see it. A well. Right in front of her.

Hagar got up, filled her water skin, and gave her son a drink.

We, too, may sometimes feel empty and hopeless. Spiritually parched. Physically exhausted. Blinded by the tears of our grief over the losses and struggles in our lives. How can we ever be thankful?

If we look into our discouraged hearts or at our bleak circumstances (or that of others), we will surely despair of hope. We won’t see the well of blessings God has placed in front of us. We won’t see that God really is good and is full of love and compassion towards us. We won’t see that He actually is for us, not against us.

God longs to be gracious to us. He tenderly lifts our weary hearts to see His bottomless well of love. He invites us to drink, long and freely.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
Isaiah 30:18

Jesus’ love and compassion will never empty. They will always be more than enough for us. No matter what. He heard Hagar’s and Ishmael’s cries, and He will hear our cries. He didn’t forget them, and He won’t forget us.

Precious Lord, You know the heart of every person. You know the heavy burdens weighing us down. Please lift us and carry us through this Thanksgiving season and always. Open the eyes of our hearts to Your never-emptying well of love and empower us to drink from it. Send fullness in spite of empty places we feel and strength and peace amid the struggles of this life. Please help us to truly believe You are good, You are love, and You are for us. Thank You for Your patience with us and for never condemning us. Help us to express our gratitude to You by releasing our burdens into Your hands and trusting Your plan for us. Open our eyes, too, to see all that we still have and still are able to do. Thank You so much for Your unconditional love, Your endless patience with us, and Your ever-flowing and over-flowing grace!

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
by Chris Tomlin

You Are Not Alone

Has your heart, life, and voice been devastated by abuse? Is your pain even deeper because of lack of affirmation and support? Do you feel alone and afraid?

I have mentioned before that I was sexually and spiritually abused by a pastor. I have shared with you somewhat of how it affects me, how it is a lifetime of healing, and how those memory triggers can still knock me down at times.

What I haven’t said much about is how heartbreaking it is when churches still do not support victims. How they can re-victimize hurting souls by speaking up for or excusing the perpetrators. How they ignore their pain and guilt them into silence.

I wasn’t supported by the church leadership, and many Christian “friends” left me when I told the truth. Many times I felt so alone and not understood. I’m so sad that it’s still happening.

I know there are some churches and individuals who are speaking up for the victims. Who pray and work hard to change attitudes. Who learn how best to support these hurting souls. I thank God for them.

And I thank God that He led me to caring and competent counselors who helped me work through a lot. He also gave me some family and friends who believe me, support me, and understand me. I thank God for each and every one.

Above all, I thank Him that He has never left me, even when it often felt like it. When I thought He didn’t care at all about me. When the darkness consumed me.

It has been a long, difficult journey of over 40 years to healing and learning God is safe and always has honorable intentions towards me. I’m still a work-in-progress as He keeps healing deeper layers of pain, betrayal, and shattered trust.

Through the years He has strengthened my belief in the truth that we can always fully depend on Him. He is always working for our good even when we can’t “feel” Him. He remains faithful no matter what.

Jesus cries with us. He totally empathizes with us. He has been ravaged beyond anything we can imagine. His suffering was deeper than anything any of us has ever experienced. He knows what it’s like to be totally alone and forsaken.

He is the ONE who cares about us more than anyone ever will. He will never abandon us. He will always understand and support us, and He will heal us ever more deeply. He stretches His arms wide and invites us into His arms of love. He provides the safety, the support, and the healing no one on earth can.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

“For I will restore health to you
And I will heal your wounds, says the Lord,
Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
‘This is Zion; no one seeks her and no one cares for her.'”
Jeremiah 30:17

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You
because You have not abandoned
those who seek You, Yahweh.”
Psalm 9:9-10


“I Am Not Alone”
by Kari Jobe

The Love of Jesus Will Always Be Stronger

Jesus-powerful-love

Sometimes insecurity, shame, and fear shackle us down in despair. Weighing down our arms like lead so that we cannot lift them to praise our Savior. Restraining our feet from stepping forward to live a life of freedom and devotion to our God. Molding our necks into a downward thrust that we fail to lift our eyes to see the goodness God surrounds us with.

In Christ Jesus and His sacrifice for us, He has already unlocked all these shackles. So why do we so often bind ourselves up again? Why do we refuse His powerful love? Why do we avoid Jesus’ proffered hand and refuse His key to freedom?

Sometimes we long to reach out for that key He has promised us, but insecurity, shame, and fear have such deep roots in our hearts. Jesus longs for us to lay our chained-up hearts at His feet. To believe in His power to shatter the shackles. He lifts our bruised and bleeding bodies and hearts and hugs us to Himself, saying, “My child, I understand what you’re going through. Grasp hold of this truth – I love you and want to free you completely. Believe that you are precious to Me and you will always be safe and enough in Me.”

Jesus has such inexpressible patience with us. His love is so unconditional, and His grace is so freely given. As a testimony of who He is and what He has done for us, I feel a need to write. I confess that sometimes the words don’t always flow freely like I hear many writers experience. I feel inadequate, I fear rejection, and it hurts too much to write transparently. Yet I feel His nudge to answer the whispers He places in my heart. He won’t let me go. He mows down all my excuses with His faithful promises, “My child, have I not promised I will never, never leave you or forsake you? Have I not promised that you can do all things through Me? Trust Me, My child. My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” (Deut. 31:6, 2 Cor. 12:9)

“But He has said to me,
‘My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy
are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation];
for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself
most effectively] in [your] weakness.’ Therefore,
I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ
[may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP

Sometimes when we’re in despair, we can’t see how God has helped us through so much. When the chains of insecurity, shame, and fear are deadweight in our lives, we can feel like He has totally forsaken us. We can feel so worthless that we can’t imagine Him even wanting to think of us. At those times, we are blind to our true identity in Him, the power of His love that has brought us through many deep valleys, and the promise that He will always be with us. We forget that every breath we take is Him breathing life into us.

The powerful love of Jesus will always be stronger than any shackle that binds us. God’s power parted the Red Sea and freed the Israelites from slavery. His power rose Jesus from the dead. His power can reach into our shackled hearts, too. He is powerful to burst the chains asunder that hold us back from joy in Him. Powerful to break all barriers that inhibit us from living a life in the fullness of the freedom there is to be found in Jesus. Powerful to “strengthen our weak hands and steady our knees that give way” (Isaiah 35:3), to give us a dance of victory that echoes praises to His Name.

A Child's Trust

“Shackles [Praise You]”
by Mary Mary

“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You”

all things are possible in God

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