His health had been worsening in the preceding months, yet his death still took me by surprise. I thought we had another Thanksgiving, another Christmas, another birthday with him. We put together a Thanksgiving meal, but my heart fought to be thankful in my grief. The holiday season of that year was muted and quite honestly, a struggle. I found it hard to care about some of the details that used to be so important. And our traditions felt strange without him there.
We all find ourselves devastated by life at one time or another. We’ve lost loved ones, said goodbye to cherished relationships, lost out on a big dream. We find ourselves in the middle of a very bad thing that has happened or is happening. But have hope! God is with us in the depths of life as well as the good times. He knows our grief and longs to comfort us.
When we are hurting, it can be difficult to be thankful. It can be challenging to even want to name one thing you are thankful for. When you are ready to try to be thankful, consider these points.
It is a part of prayer. Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” As we talk to our Father in heaven about our problems, giving over our burdens to Him, we can also thank Him for the answers we have seen to prayer. Maybe they aren’t the answers you hoped for, but thanking God reminds you of His provision.
It is the appropriate response to our loving and powerful God. Psalm 9:1 NASB tells us “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.” Our God who created the heavens and earth deserves our gratitude.
It changes your heart. In grief and in other circumstances, it can seem impossible to be thankful for anything. It is then that we might bring the Lord a sacrifice of praise. “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 NASB.
I struggled through that season, but God was faithful. He brought me through that time. I still miss my dad, and I’ve gone through other hard times since then. Yet each reminder to be thankful is an opportunity to put myself at the foot of the throne of God, remembering He is in control and I am not.
Father, we pray that you will help us bring a sacrifice of praise to you, even during the hard times. Thank you that we are never alone and that we can always turn to you. May You change our hearts through our thankfulness to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.