November 2009

November Devotional 

Just when I get used to a gorgeous day in the 70s and think I won’t ever need a jacket again, the temperature drops and I’m hunting for my ear muffs and mitts! But truly, I do appreciate the changing times of the calendar and have slowly learned to be grateful in all seasons – both in terms of weather and in the seasons of life.


The latter can be much more difficult that the former, however.  If you’ve ever struggled through a winter of depression, simmered through a summer of scorching disappointment, lost the spring in your step due to a season of loneliness, or have fallen deeply into unrelenting pain, you know how arduous it can be to remain thankful.  Even believers struggle to trust God through the dark times.  It’s normal – so please know that God is not shocked when your faith is rocked.  He knows we are frail humans who are “but dust” and expects our emotions to reflect the reality of life.


Yet God’s word also teaches us that in all things we can and should be thankful.  Philippians 4:6 says, “Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.”  And 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us to, “be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.” 


Of course God is not telling us to be thankful for the difficulty we are experiencing.  It would be ludicrous to say “Thank you God that I have been diagnosed with cancer.”  God hates sin and the side effects it has caused in our world – hatred, greed, evil behavior, sickness, diseases, and death.  These are all part of the “curse” of sin which touches all of our lives, and this pain and suffering grieves God deeply.  But Jesus has conquered the power of sin and finality of death for us by substituting his life for ours, and then rising from the dead.  For that we can be very thankful indeed! 


Instead, God calls us to be thankful despite or even in the midst of our circumstances.  The guys that wrote the Psalms were really good at showing us this balance between real emotions and real faith.  When times were tough, they honestly vented their frustrations and anger to God, but they also proclaimed enduring faith and trust in him.  In the middle of their pain, they chose to be thankful – because they knew God was good, and He would bring good out of their situation.


Romans 8:28 promises us the same thing.  It says, “God causes all things to work together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to his purposes.”  When we are aligned with God, we can know without a doubt that he loves us, cares about our needs, tenderly listens to us, and has already planned an end to our pain and suffering.  Indeed, most people I know say they are even glad for the tough times they have endured, because those trials and difficulties have made them a better, wiser, and stronger person.  Perhaps you have experienced that too.


One thing that helps me stay focused is that simple adage: “Count your blessings.”  Even on days when I dread getting out of bed, I can still thank God that I am alive and loved; and be grateful for my dear husband, food on the table, and caring friends.  Being thankful allows me to assert God’s goodness and thwart Satan’s attempts at completely crushing me.  In my weakness, God is still stronger than it all.


This Thanksgiving, remember to take time to thank God – regardless of what season you are in.  In fact, why not keep a journal from now until the end of the year of daily “thanks.”  Feel free to pour out all your feelings – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  But then, count your blessings.  Write them down, and notice how many of them there are.  Through this simple exercise you will be able to see more clearly how God’s goodness sustains us through all seasons and how his love makes “everything work together for good.”  And that in itself is something to be thankful for.