Giving thanks in the pain
I think we have lost the very meaning of Thanksgiving.
We set aside a day every year at the end of November, and we call it a day to give thanks. Then we use it to sit around a table or in the living room in front of the television eating way too much, and we offer a quick prayer of thanks, and call it done.
We spend more time cheering our team, sitting in a deer blind, or getting a jump on Black Friday shopping than we do actually pausing to be thankful.
So many are too removed from the concept to even consider giving thanks.
I mean, how do you give thanks when the past year brought your dad being killed in a motorcycle accident? How can you be thankful when what 2019 brought you was your precious daughter being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and the horror that followed? How can you even think of being thankful when you are feeling the effects of chemo treatments? How is it possible to be thankful, when there is an empty seat at the table?
I have spent the last year wondering such things after the loss of my wife last year. It was a year filled with days of anger, days of tears and sadness, and even days of a depression so deep I could not function at all.
Even today, as these words are being typed, there is a struggle to find peace.
So, how does Carly Beck and her family give thanks? How do my friends Robb and Amanda Bates sit at their table this year and find the strength to give their thanks? How does a dear, sweet Brandy Crawford get up on Thanksgiving fighting the impacts of another chemo treatment and bow her head in prayer and thank God for her year? How will my family do the same?
The answer is faith.
That answer is something that sometimes takes every ounce of determination and strength in you to keep, when the world around you is falling apart and makes no sense. Just as it says, it is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
And, I have proof.
When the innocent little redheaded child named Zadie Kaye was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes it was a tragedy for her family. On that first day, it was a nightmare. Now, many months after, there is a glimmer of hope, and there is evidence that ZK will be okay. There is even hope for easier treatment, and one day, a cure.
There is always hope, which is the very substance of faith.
I believe it was divine intervention that brought my brother in Christ, Michael Amason, to my office this morning as this column was being written.
Michael and his family know about faith, and they know about loss. We sat here in my office and talked about both, and he helped me. He let me know that it is okay to still be struggling with the loss of my Patty after a year. He told me of his loss, and how it still impacts him today, some 25 years later. But then, he told me about how he has used his loss to help others through their loss.
That, my friends, is faith, and it is exactly how we can be thankful.
God, in His infinite wisdom, sees fit to not tell us the reasons why. Lord knows I have asked him a thousand times, just as Michael has, just as Robb and Amanda have, and just as Carly has too.
He doesn’t tell us why, instead He shows us how we can take our loss and grief and use it to help others. He shows us how we can take our unimaginable pain, and use it to lessen the pain of someone else. To be honest, that doesn’t lessen our pain, it doesn’t keep us from asking why, but I think maybe it does help us, just knowing that we can take what we have been through, and use it to lighten someone else’s load.
Faith, to me, is knowing that even though I question God as to why my Patty is not here with me, I know that I will see her again one day, and when I get there, I will no longer care about the why. It is knowing that even though I hurt, He hurts with me. I know that because His word says, by His stripes I am healed. He bore my pain, He felt my suffering and He is how I know one day all of it will end.
That is how we give thanks this Thursday, and every day of the year.
No matter what you have been through, no matter what you are dealing with right now, or what you may deal with in the future, if your faith is in the right place, you can always have a reason to be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.