Don’t you just love the fall? The leaves dictate the color trends of the season, the air smells of spices. Cardigan sweaters and flannel shirts, tights and boots- pumpkin everything. And, oh, the holidays! Three months of food, music, decorations, lights, family…and a time to give reflection and gratitude to the past year.
The title character in the season of gratitude is, of course, Thanksgiving. For many, this is a day to gather with loved ones, and (literally) give thanks for the blessings in each other’s lives. Some years, there is much to be thankful for; others, it seems more difficult to piece together a suitable list.
For me, this year- well, my list is abundant. After coming through a long period of trials, the Lord has shown my husband and me the beginnings of the fruit from years of planting and labor. Lately, I find myself shaking my head at where we are this holiday season, compared to the past several. To say we are in a much different place is an understatement; in many ways, we are closing the door on one season of life, and stepping into a very different one.
I recently read a devotional from another faith blogger, discussing how the process of reaching the promise is just as important as the promise itself. And that process often includes many times of unrest, of complications, of obstacles.
As I said above, my family has had a long season of trial. And there were so many nights I laid awake at night and cried out to the Lord, “Why? Why this? Why can’t it be easier? What about them? Why do they get that and I get this.”
What a sad, and frankly faithless, prayer! We are not promised a life of abundance on this earth- this is left for the world to come. But we are promised this:
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV
This promise was made to Israel thousands of years ago, and it still holds true for us today.
We are all familiar with the story of Job, right? He, more so than I have ever been, had reason enough to blaspheme the name of the Lord- to not walk, but run away from his faith. Yet in the midst of his trials, he praised His holy name. He remembered the promise, and from where everything he had began:
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21, ESV
Or what about the Apostle Paul? Abandoned by his friends, jailed- others using his circumstance for reasons not honorable. He writes:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Phillipans 4:11-13, ESV
No matter in times of trial or blessing- the faithful Apostle kept his eyes turned to the One above. He is saying no matter what circumstance he found himself, his strength was found not in himself, but from the Lord; his faith and trust – and praise - superseded his physical need at all times.
These holy men remind us - praise His holy name, in all things. Even when it feels impossible. Even if all seems lost and hopeless. Because He assures us He has it under control. He knows what he is doing.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28, ESV
To Him be all glory! Glory to God in the highest!
In our church, we often sing an old hymn known as the Doxology; another simple reminder of where our gratitude belongs. I challenge you to remember these simple lyrics no matter how you spend your season of praise and thanks:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.