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

He Feels Each Tear That Falls

tearsJesusfeels

“He’s the God of every story,
He sees each tear that falls.
We may not understand but one thing is certain.
He is faithful, He’s a faithful God.”
– “God of Every Story” by Laura Story

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Longing Soul

Dear Jesus
You see each tear that falls
You feel their inexpressible grief
You collect them in Your bottle
You remember them
Please rain down
Let the raindrops of Your grace
Wash away the sadness
Leaving only tears of joy
In YOU.

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Whispers of Hope

My precious child,
I see your tears.
I feel the weight
Of their sadness.
I mingle them
With My tears for you.
My raindrops
Filled with
Love, Grace, and Hope
Are raining down on you.
A continual stream
Ever flowing
Never exhausting.
Listen to the gentle drum
Of My love yearning for you.
Put away your umbrella
Of “I am not worthy”
And feel them.
Open your mouth wide
Drink them in
Let them seep into your heart
To refresh your parched soul.
Drink of My living water
And you will no longer
Be thirsty in your soul.
My raindrops of grace
Within you
Will be a spring
Bubbling up within you
With the joy
Of My faithful love
For you.

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:14 NLT)

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The Well We Don’t Always See

Living Water
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38)

How was your Thanksgiving Day? Some of you may have rejoiced in all the blessings you may still have. But others may be burdened with sorrow that veils the blessings so you can’t see them anymore.

Not everyone feels Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most wonderful times of the year. Do you ever have those days where you feel like screaming, because everyone around you seems so happy? When you try to keep from crying because you’re afraid you will never stop? Perhaps this Thanksgiving Day was not joyful to you because of loss, illness or disability, divorce, domestic violence, abuse, addictions, missing or disabled (physically or mentally) military spouses or parents, family silence or criticism, or maybe having no family at all to share it with. Or maybe you have hidden pains and brokenness that you don’t dare to share with anyone, and you feel so alone and misunderstood.

When Abraham sent away Hagar and Ishmael, they wandered in the desert. With an emptied water skin, Hagar put her son under one of the bushes. She could not bear the thought of seeing her son die. Parched and weak, she distanced herself, sat down, and sobbed.

Then an angel called to Hagar, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.”

Bowed down with grief, Hagar did not see the blessing in front of her. But God lifted her head and opened her eyes to see it. A well. Right in front of her.

Sometimes we have blessings around us we can’t see because of grief. Our eyes, blinded with tears, cannot look anywhere but down into the pit of our misery. But God hears our cries. He heard Ishmael’s cries. He heard Hagar’s cries. And He can and will hear our cries.

There is a bottomless, always-full well of Jesus’ love right in front of us, waiting for us to drink freely of it. A well full of yearning love that “longs to be gracious to us.” Of faithful love that says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Of selfless, sacrificial love that “has freed us from our sins by His blood.” Of forgiving, nonjudgmental love that holds no condemnation for those who believe in Him. Of replenishing, restoring love that says to those whose hope has dried up, “I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.”

The well is ready for us, but like Hagar, we have to use it or it won’t help us. Hagar was likely physically weak from lack of water and spiritually devastated of hope. Then God opened her eyes to see the well, and she believed. She got up, filled her water skin, and gave her son a drink. We, too, may sometimes feel empty and hopeless. But if we by faith can lift our eyes to see what is available to us for the asking… Do you see it? That never-emptying well of miraculous love? Inviting you to get up and drink?

If you are having a difficult time this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, may Jesus hold you up and strengthen you. May He lift you and carry you when you can’t go any further. And may He each morning not only open our eyes to His never-emptying well of love, but also empower us to drink from it. Then instead of emptiness, we will have fulfillment. Instead of struggles, we will have peace. Instead of sorrow, we will have joy.

A Child's Trust