It’s that time of year—the sweet season of pausing to say thank you. For some, reflecting in this way is simple. Declaring appreciation for all things bubbles up from your heart and rolls off your tongue. Oh, for many of us to learn from you when this season leaves us with a total lack of words for our deep emotions. The secret of peace and contentment is not easily or quickly learned in this life (we all know that by now), so I’m always thankful for the models of these great virtues.
My mother-in-law teaches this well. Widowed for 20+ years and familiar with the many roads of suffering, she focuses on the positives, always. Every time her hard circumstances or the loneliness of life lure her to a woe-is-me perspective, words of blessing and appreciation start to flow from her lips, reminding anyone listening that she has so much to be thankful for! It’s a contagious life-giving lesson I try to put into practice.
At some point in life, or maybe even right now, you may find yourself in a hard place.
Here are a few things I have found to be grateful for in grief and you may too when you look back on your season of sorrow:
- Grief gives us a greater understanding of the cross and the price Jesus paid when He suffered on the cross for our sins. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief . . . Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried…” Isaiah 53:3-4
- Life slows down which is a good thing even though often unwanted and uncomfortable. Lean into this season of solitude – you will receive treasures in the dark. “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” Isaiah 45:3
- Humility is modeled as you experience the body of Christ in action. Suffering provides a necessary opportunity to humble ourselves before Almighty God.
- Compassion grows as you learn the dos and don’ts of comforting one who is hurting. These lessons will prove to be valuable when you are at the place of comforting as you have been comforted.
- The sovereignty of God is considered. Job eventually declared that his personal season of loss and suffering was “too wonderful for me.” Wonderful is not the word we would choose when articulating our pain but knowing the definition of wonderful here—hard to understand—we find wonderful to be the most accurate description of these mysterious times. It is important to be thankful that God is God and we are not.
- Our faith is challenged. James teaches that trials are necessary and to be considered joy because of the outcome produced. The testing of our faith produces endurance.
- Desperation pushes us into total dependence on God and God alone. He is our everything, our Husband, Father to our children, and the only One able to completely restore our souls.
- Opportunities to declare “Great is Thy faithfulness” will abound as you look back on ways that God has provided for you and will continue to provide.