Thanksgiving is here. The world around us is on a speeding track to Christmas, so it's important that we pause and take a breath - not just push through to the next thing. That is the first part of gratitude - pause and reflect. Once we stop to look around us, it's relatively easy to count our blessings. But what about gratitude in the hard places? Maybe our hearts are still raw from a recent loss or the holidays remind us of our loss. Can we find gratitude there?
Last weekend at church, we sang the song "What He's Done ." It's a beautiful song about the sacrifice Jesus paid to save us. As we began to sing, the worship leader encouraged us to think about all God has done in our lives in gratitude. My mind drifted through events for which I'm grateful, how Jesus went to extravagant lengths to rescue me - for my parents, my life, and my family. So many blessings. As memories flowed, I found myself skipping over the hard things. I avoided the dark and painful times, especially the accident that took our daughter Nicole's earthly life three days after Christmas some years ago. However, that day in church, I felt a quiet whispering in my heart to go there to find a place of thanksgiving.
I found it easy to give thanks leading up to that time and times since. I have so many wonderful memories of our family and Nicole's beautiful life, but to find praise in the rocky edges of my pain proved a little challenging. As my thoughts lingered there, I was reminded of how God carried me through the crushing pain that pressed down on my soul.
I write about that time in the last chapter of my book Victorious Heart.
"Now, all these years later, I see even though there has been a large measure of healing in my heart, I will never get over the sorrow of losing Nicole. My heart will never be "fixed and return to the way I was prior to December 28, 1998. Grief is a part of my life, and it has forever changed me, and that's okay. I've learned just surviving is not the plan, but the plan God has for me is for a future and a hope. Not to harm me, but to cause me to flourish and thrive, not despite of my sorrow, but in the midst of it....He has taken all the broken pieces of my heart and is making them into something beautiful."
That is something to be grateful for - the miracle of rescue. I could find gratitude in the hard places. Now, I wasn't able to do that in the beginning because oftentimes, it's difficult to see light and hope while we are in the midst of the battle of sorrow.
The time in worship at church was an excellent reminder for me to find thanksgiving in the hard places. It was the gift I needed to refresh my heart. Thanksgiving loosens up the hard edges and sets our hearts free.
If your pain is too raw and fresh to visit those dark places, or you haven't felt the rescue yet, I'm so sorry you must walk this road. Don't lose heart, my sweet friend; hang on - you will make it through this, not just surviving, but finding a beautiful rescue in your own story.