Friday, November 24, 2017

Thankful Through Tough Times

When I first put this down as my Thanksgiving post title, I didn't realize how appropriate it would be for what our friends have been going through. 
Even though our family has been spared the loss of a child, two other pastor's families that we are very close to have not. Today is the first Thanksgiving that both these families will have to celebrate without their beloved boys. The Houston's will not hear the bubbly baby laughter from little Lemuel, and the Simao's won't have their energetic Isaiah asking every five minutes if dinner is ready yet. 
It's a sobering thought, and should remind those of us more fortunate to have all our family around us to truly be grateful for another holiday in their presence. 
As I watched these two families struggle through the hope that God would work a miracle, the pleading prayers offered up on the boys' behalf, the eventual acceptance that God had a different plan for their precious children, and the grieving process, I was convicted. The Houston's and the Simao's both showed such an amazing testimony of faith and trust that I don't think I could have if I had been in a similar situation.
The truth is, we all need the reminder to be thankful in EVERYTHING. 
It's easy for us to thank God when things go the way we want them to. If we happen to pass that one college test we were worried about, or if we get that raise we were hoping for, or when the weather clears so your favorite football team wins, or when you manage to somehow crush that writing goal, praising God is easy. 
But what about when things don't go your way? What about when God gives you something you don't want? What about when you fail that test? What about when you lose your job? What about when you lose someone precious to you that you had hoped and prayed would somehow recover? 

We want to hold it against God. We feel bitter. We know we shouldn't, so we tell our friends that surely God knew what He was doing and that it will all work out for His glory in the end, but deep down in our sinful souls we're angry. We make all sorts of convincing arguments to ourselves and others that God is in control and knows what is best for us, but at that same time, there's that nagging voice in our heads asking: but why? Why would he do something like that to me? I'm pretty sure I have a better idea of what's good for me, because I really don't see how that terrible thing could possibly have been good. 
It's pride. And that pride is what makes it so hard for us to admit that God is right and we are wrong. 
God is in control. And His ways are not our ways. 
So how do we stay thankful when things are tough? How should we show gratitude when we're in the midst of trials? 

~ Give Thanks for the Good Things God HAS Given Us ~
The Houston's and Simao's thanked God for the time they had with their boys, though it was cut short. They thanked God for the precious memories that they would be able to keep in their hearts forever. They thanked God that they still had their other children and people who loved and supported them through their grieving. 
I think this is such an important point. So often I find myself feeling down about everything going wrong in my life when I could be instead showing gratitude for all the amazing things that happen to me on a daily basis. 
Why grumble about things you don't control when you can enjoy all the free gifts God gives you with every breath you take?  

~ Give Thanks for the Things We Take for Granted ~
Ever take a moment to say thanks for things we tend to look past and take for granted? Like the fact that you probably drink clean water every day and have the ability to shower inside your house without critters crawling up the drain? Or that you can own your Bible without endangering your life? Or that you actually have a family that loves you and supports you? Or that your have shoes? And clothes? And TURKEY? (Even though I'm not a huge fan of that.) When was the last time you thanked God for candy corn? Yeah, it may seem silly, but think about it. I don't think God would object to us telling Him that we appreciate the fact that our dad's have jobs and that we have money to spend on stuff, even if that stuff is somewhat frivolous. And if you're at a complete loss as to what you could POSSIBLY thank God for, consider the fact that you're still BREATHING. That's a pretty major blessing when you stop and think about it. 

~ Give Thanks When You're Put Through Trials ~
This is by far the toughest thing in which to give thanks. I mean, who thanks God when they find out they have cancer? Who decides to thank God for losing a friend or loved one, whether to death or to something less fatal like a move away from your state? Who thanks God for pain? For hardship? Or even something as little as an inconvenience like the loss of power or your favorite Walmart parking spot? Usually we just start asking God to take it away, right? Rarely, and I say rarely because there are Christians out there who show amazing spiritual maturity in this, do we stop to THANK God for using such trials to show us how we need to grow closer to Him. But the truth is, that is why trials happen to us. They're God's way of giving us a little, or larger, nudge in His direction. Because admit it, the second a trial does appear in our lives, who do we immediately turn to? (I hope!) God. 

~ Give Thanks for the Little Things ~
Laughter. Hugs. Quiet rainy days that you can spend inside reading and writing. Pillows. Fuzzy socks. Hot chocolate (with marshmallows) right after you come inside from a snowball fight. Another day of a safe commute to work. Ever said thank you for those things? It's so easy for us to remember to show proper gratitude toward God when a huge prayer request is answered, but do we take the time to thank Him for the everyday things that make us smile? These are some of the biggest blessings in our lives...but we only realize that when they go missing. I'm sure God is happy that we thank Him at all, but imagine how glad He is when we notice the little things He does to help us have a good day and take the time to be grateful. And really, it doesn't take that much effort on our part to realize and thank Him from the bottom of our heart. 

Anyways, I hope this post made you stop and reevaluate your attitude a little bit. I have to admit, even as I wrote this, I had to consider all the times I've failed to thank God for things. It's hard to remember to be thankful, but I think the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Make sure it never becomes an involuntary kind of reflex, but at least make yourself notice blessings sooner, and start perceiving the trials we face as blessings in disguise. 
Throughout this post I've included a few of my favorite songs that went with my theme so well I just had to include them. :) I hope you were encouraged by this post, and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 


  1. This was amazing. <3 Thank you for writing it, Rebekah.

  2. Thank you for sharing this ❤ I really touched my heart. Often we forget to be thankful for the little things in life.

  3. Thankfulness is so important! Good reminder! And your family has had to spend many Thanksgivings without a child! He was keeping my babies company this Thanksgiving!

  4. aww, that is so incredibly sad about those boys..that must have been awful. But I love your perspective. Our baby sister was a stillborn and that was so, so hard, but the Lord had a purpose in it. <3 <3 Thanks for sharing!!!


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