It’s Thanksgiving morning.
I’m sitting alone in my apartment.
I’m propped up in bed with a heating pad on my back and my Bible and journal sitting to my left. Multiple blankets cover the lower half of my body and my laptop sits atop them as I type.
I wasn’t planning to write on the blog today. I opened my journal to begin pouring out some thoughts, but after some prayer and scripture reading I felt like I needed to get this into a blog post. So, here I am. Raw and real.
Being Thanksgiving and all, I know that I should be reflecting on what I’m thankful for right now. So, I’m thinking through some things – a lot of things.
I truly am thankful for the way God has worked in my life. He has provided during some of my weakest times.
I know God is good. I really do. But, at the same time I often find my mind dwelling on all that’s wrong in my life right now. I’m grieving the loss of how I thought my life would look.
Something else that will make the next month difficult is that thanks to Lyme Disease, I am now intolerant to all of the major allergens. My diet is incredibly restrictive, which means there’s not as much joy in feasting on Thanksgiving and Christmas because I can’t eat rolls or butter or gravy or any of my favorite desserts. While I know that the holidays are about more than food, taking away that piece of it can be hard.
Over the past year, I have seen a lot of suffering – not just in my life but in the lives of those I care about. There is so much pain going on in the world right now that it can be easy to look at all that’s bad and be discouraged.
Life is really, really difficult.
But, even so, we can still have hope and be thankful.
Romans 5 is a passage of scripture that’s been speaking to me over and over again as I’ve faced the complete loss of self that is Lyme Disease. But, you know what else is a complete loss of self? Putting all of your hope and trust in Jesus (Matthew 10:39). In many ways the suffering I endure on a daily basis puts me in a good place to receive the love of Christ because I literally cannot go on without Him.
When we are at our weakest, God is strong and will carry us (read more in your free copy of Finding Hope Through the Fog).
In the beginning of Romans 5, the Apostle Paul writes,
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (v. 1-2, NIV)
Then he continues,
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” (v. 3-5, NIV, emphasis added)
So, we can see here that when we face suffering, God turns it around to set us up to receive hope.
Suffering –> Perseverance –> Character –> Hope
It is through suffering that we can have hope. It’s not just in the absence of suffering that we can have hope and be at peace.
Because of God’s character and the love He has poured out for us through sending His Son Jesus into the world to pay for our sins and then giving us the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), we can have hope at all times if we are believers in Christ.
As I think about what I’m thankful for, I can easily look at all of the “things” God has blessed me with. The “things” of God are great and his blessings are abundant, but what I’m most thankful for and want to recognize as the greatest gift in my life is God Himself! God in Himself is hope and I want to be thankful for Him this year and every year.
No matter where you are in your life right now, whether you’re struggling, or hurting, or happy, know that you will always have something to be thankful for if your faith is placed in Christ. God will provide you with hope. He promises this.
I pray that you’ll take him up on that promise.