Have you ever felt like life is just pounding you with blows that rattle your faith or your joy? It seems like we have been surrounded by immense loss and sadness in the last month. Death has shadowed dear friends and our own family, putting a damper on what is normally a festive kickoff to the holiday season. Do you ever wonder why God allows loss and sorrow in the world? I do. Life is sometimes painful. For many people the holidays hold an emptiness that no amount of music, food or Black Friday deals can fill.
Now I’m no theologian, but I know myself enough to understand that there are things that I’m not going to catch on to without a little help from our Creator. I guarantee that with my selfish nature if I lived in a world without valleys, I would have no appreciation for the beautiful view from above. Losing people I have loved makes me more thankful for those still with me. Being financially strapped for a time in my life, makes me thankful for every dollar I have. Seeing persecution half a world away makes me more thankful for my religious freedom.
A friend of mine recently lost both his mother and father in a tragic accident resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning. (Sidenote – make sure you have a functioning carbon monoxide detector in your home!) In the waiting room of the ER my friend gathered his children around him in the midst of the trauma and the pain to pray. They thanked God for the day that HE had made. He wanted his children to see that God doesn’t always allow us to see the plan in the moment. Regardless of how we feel, there IS MUCH to be thankful for, even if we have to look carefully.
A few days after the funeral, I received results from yet another (minor) surgery. It made me wonder if I had asked better questions or taken action earlier, perhaps we would have conceived again. The answer is maybe. I thought about what my friend had said, so I pulled my car over and thanked God. If things in my life had gone differently, I likely would not be on this road to adoption, and I am VERY sure its His will. He knew what it would take to get me to this point. So in the midst of circumstances that some would find disappointing or disheartening, I choose to be thankful.
Dear friends, pray for and reach out to those experiencing loss and sadness this season. If you are in a dark place yourself, please look up and inward to find something to be thankful for, even if it is only the sunrise.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24 English Standard Version (ESV)