When the Burden of Grief Makes Gratitude Harder

Thank you for your prayers concerning the tragedy I wrote about in last week’s post. We appreciated it so much! Though Tad opens his eyes, he is not allowed company right now. All the nurse would tell our son is that he gets very agitated when he gets visitors, and that’s not good for him. So we don’t know too many details of his condition, but we are so afraid he will have some lasting brain damage. We continue to pray for his healing.

Yesterday morning was a funeral for a young husband and father, only 33 years old. Three small children, 5-year-old twin boys and a 3-year-old girl, will not grow up with their devoted dad. The wife is a granddaughter of the couple that live across the hall from us.

The day after my neighbor heard about the loss of a granddaughter’s husband, she had to take her husband to hospice because of cancer.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by all the suffering and death there is in this world? It’s hard, isn’t it?

I know some of you readers are personally dealing with the death of family or friends only recently and will be experiencing your first Thanksgiving and Christmas without them. It will be so difficult to have missing places among you. May God give you strength!

There are others of you whose loss I don’t know about, whether a loved one, a relationship, or a loss of who you really are.

Maybe you have no family to share these days with. Or your families are so dysfunctional that it devastates you and fills you with anxiety to get together.

Whatever your loss and however alone or misunderstood you may feel, I am so sorry. But infinitely more sorry than I am is our God who knows, cares, and understands. Even when grief clouds our vision and it’s hard to grasp that truth, it is still the truth. Even when life changes drastically for us, He never changes. He is faithful. Even if we sometimes have a hard time being grateful, we are still precious to Him and He will never leave us.

Someday when we can look back to the times of great sorrow, we will see one set of footprints in the sand. It was in those times that He carried us. Thank You, God, for Your unconditional love, Your never-ending compassion, and Your unchanging faithfulness!

“Because of the Lord’s
great love we are not consumed,

    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

I hope to be back here the first Tuesday of December.

Footprints In the Sand
by Leona Lewis

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

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week. It’s a bittersweet day for some of us because of losses and brokenness.

I read a post last week by Molly Huggins, and it deeply touched me. I can’t ignore the God-nudge to share it with you. May it help us remember God’s mercy and grace stands sure, no matter how broken our families, this world, or our own hearts are.

A Thanksgiving Hallelujah

I hope you will take time to read Molly’s post. Here are three quotes that especially speak to me. What speaks to your heart?

“A sacrifice of thanksgiving means grieving what could have been while remaining grateful for what is.”
“His covenant of mercy and grace is as sure as the covenant of day. He is faithful in our loss. He is faithful in our fear. He is faithful in our grief.”
“And on this Thanksgiving Day, and all the others before and after, I will sing a sacrifice of praise and thanks, a bittersweet response to the mercy we’ve been shown. A grief-tinged, grace-laced hallelujah chorus of my own.”

May we join her hallelujah, my friends, not only this Thanksgiving Day (here in the USA), but each and every day.

“Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him”.
Lamentations 3:21-24

“Our Lord and God,
You are worthy to receive
glory and honor and power,
because You have created all things,
and because of Your will
they exist and were created.”
Revelation 4:11

“Broken Hallelujah”
by Mandisa

“With my love and my sadness
I come before You Lord
My heart’s in a thousand pieces
Maybe even more
Yet I trust in this moment You’re with me somehow
And You’ve always been faithful so Lord even now

When all that I can sing is a broken Hallelujah
When my only offering is shattered praise
Still a song of adoration will rise up from these ruins
And I will worship You and give You thanks
Even when my only praise is a broken Hallelujah…”