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

God Bless You This Thanksgiving and Always!

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A Child's Trust

“Trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratefulness if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted. Our national holiday of gratitude, Thanksgiving, was born and grew out of hard times. The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year. It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the Depression.” (“How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times” by Robert Emmons)

A Child's Trust

A Thanksgiving Prayer
by Helen Steiner Rice

Thank You, God, for everything …
The big things and the small,
For “every good gift comes from God” …
The Giver of them all.

And all too often we accept
Without any thanks or praise,
The gifts You send as blessings
Each day in many ways.

And so at this Thanksgiving time,
We offer up a prayer;
To thank You, God, for giving us
A lot more than our share.

First, thank You for the little things
That often come our way;
The things we take for granted
And don’t mention when we pray.

The unexpected courtesy,
The thoughtful, kindly deed,
A hand reached out to help us …
In the time of sudden need.

Oh, make us more aware, dear God,
Of little daily graces,
That come to us with “sweet surprise,”
From never-dreamed-of places.

Then, thank You for the “miracles”
We are much too blind to see,
And give us new awareness
Of our many gifts from Thee.

And help us to remember
That the “key” to “life” and “living,”
Is to make each prayer a “prayer of thanks,”
And every day THANKSGIVING.

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“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above;
it comes down from the Father of lights
[the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens],
in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting]
or shadow cast by His turning
[for He is perfect and never changes].”
James 1:17

A Child's Trust

Perhaps because of difficult circumstances, troubles, or losses, you’re having a hard time feeling thankful at all. Maybe your cry is, “Why, God? Where are You? Do You even care about me?”

Yes, Jesus cares. Deeply. He knows what you’re going through. He understands you better than anyone ever can or will. He cries with you. He opens His arms wide and longs for you to rest in His love for you.

Does Jesus Care?

“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.”

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An Alarming Event and a Flurry of Emotions

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Picture is Free Download from SaviorMachine. I added the words.

“The principal at the Harrisburg High School has been shot…” Words something like this penetrated my brain as I was writing in my office. My husband was watching a TV program in the living room when it was interrupted by this announcement.

My heart pounded as I joined him. Two of our grand-daughters go to that school. Our bodies tensed as we listened to the story unfold that a 16-year-old boy shot the principal. When we heard the boy was restrained and the students were all ok, we sighed with relief. Thank You, God, for their protection!

The story our grand-daughters heard was that the boy walked with a gun into the office and aimed at the principal’s chest, but the vice principal tackled him. The shot caused a flesh wound on the inside of the principal’s upper arm instead of a direct blow to his chest. The vice principal and an athletic director held the boy down until the police arrived.

We hear of these school shootings, many of them fatal, across the nation, and our hearts cringe and ache for the victims and their families and friends, but it gouges deeper into the heart when it is closer to home and loved ones were in the same school as the shooter. Somehow, many of us thought it would never happen in our own backyard. Harrisburg, SD, is a small town about 10 minutes south of Sioux Falls.

What possesses these teenagers to threaten and take lives of others? Yes, some say it’s all due to the sin that lies within us. But isn’t there something deeper happening in their hearts and lives? The boy’s father said his son has been more quiet this past year and is angry at everyone. Why? Did something trigger it? Apparently, the boy got in trouble at school on the Friday before and was to meet with the principal on the following Wednesday.

It’s scary and so devastating that teenagers, in reality still children, act out in this way. I can’t help but wonder why. I know that even teenagers are responsible for their actions and must give an account for the bad choices they make. But I still can’t help but wonder if something happened in their lives that turn them to such rage or mental instability to make right choices. I have heard also that a teenager’s brain is hyperactive at the impulse center but underdeveloped at the decision-making center. It’s so sad when it plays out like this. My over-analyzing character kicks into high gear at times like this. I can’t help but see that when children inflict such pain on others, they have some deep, hidden hurts that they don’t know how to deal with. So I pray for the shooters, too.

Some may think I’m protecting the guilty when I think this, but really not. I just can’t help looking past their actions into what lies in their hearts and lives. It just feels like there’s some deep pain, fear, or rejection in these teenagers’ hearts that boils to the surface in anger. What possesses their minds? Do they realize the pain they are inflicting on victims? Do they ever wish they could do that day over?

Of course, no matter how much pain there is, this never gives anyone the right to inflict pain on someone else. One of these troubled teen shooters can devastate so many lives. Lives lost and lives forever traumatized. Heart-wrenching losses of loved ones. Children who feel paralyzed with fear and never feel safe again. Family and friends who tremble every time they send their children to school. Nightmares. Returned bed-wetting. Storms of emotions. All victims and their families desperately need our love, support, and prayers.

Even though this shooting was not fatal as other shootings have been, it traumatizes students, teachers, and families. The students returned to school the next day as did the principal himself. But some students are scared. Am I safe? Will this happen again? I was happy to hear there are counselors in place to help students work through their fears and emotions.

I read an article that a group of students gathered together around the flagpole before school. They held hands and prayed. This warmed my heart, especially since this is a public school. The principal was on the news saying his deep prayers are with the shooter and his family. I feel grateful that mention of God is still allowed in the local news.

My heart still tenses or shudders to think of what could have happened to our precious grand-daughters and their fellow classmates. My mind races with “What if…” But I try to grapple those thoughts with thanking and praising God and praying even more for the protection of our loved ones and our youth in general.

This scary event awakens me to be more diligent in praying for children everywhere, not only my own loved ones. There are many days I forget to ask God to reach children everywhere and give them hope in Jesus. A friend who directs the Hopeline for troubled teens once told me that there is such an increasing number of teenagers today who call in because they’re ready to commit suicide. They feel so hopeless, unloved, and worthless. That’s so heart wrenching, isn’t it?

It tears my heart out to think of children and teens feeling this way. Behind the scenes and not always on the news, many suffer abuse in one way or another, often within their own family. Or bullying from their classmates. O God, please help!

A debilitating sadness and fear are battling with thankfulness and praise in my mind and heart. I feel like a torrent of tears is ready to crash through the dam of being strong and courageous. Why do I feel like I need to be strong? Why don’t I just sob it out? Why don’t I pour all this grief and fear for children in this world out to a precious Savior who invites all children to come to Him and who can work miracles in the hearts of anyone?

Let’s gather our hearts and prayers together for children, including teenagers, everywhere! Let’s remember to ask Jesus to bring more and more of them to be anchored in the only hope there is in Jesus. That their fears may be soothed, their cares unburdened to our Savior, their eyes opened to see their precious worth in the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus loves the little children

“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Lord, please show
children everywhere
how precious they are
and give them hope in You.

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith