Hard times are inevitable, and we will never be able to protect ourselves from hard things coming our way. Part 3 of 7 part Everyday Thanksgiving series.
Everyday Thanksgiving // Hard Times
Anxiety + Florida
When my husband, Madison, found out he had an opportunity to complete his PhD in Florida, I kind of laughed because I never thought we would actually move that far away. Our first year of marriage had been filled with me accepting my anxiety again (after dealing with it for a large portion of my life) as I struggled with everyday tasks, but middle-of-the-night panic attacks began once we started considering the move. Terrified to leave the comfort of North Carolina with family and friends, I found a tiny bit of peace in the fact that the Lord’s track record with placing me miles out of my comfort zone somehow worked out for the best. I’m still not really sure who was speaking for me, but I told Madison I thought we should go to Florida.
The same anxious living habits followed me to Florida, preventing the both of us from fully embracing a community that we needed so badly. I would often have panic attacks when we were exploring our new home and it was rare that I would get to celebrate making it through a night without waking up panicked. One phone call to my mom revealed to me that in her nightly prayers, the Lord had put the word joy on her heart regarding my struggles. Being so wrapped up in all of the ways I felt defeated and broken during our first year in Florida was preventing me from actually seeing God’s goodness. Intrigued by this choosing joy concept, I continued reading a book given to me by my mother-in-law about keeping your eyes on daily thanksgivings in the midst of hard times. I was at a point where I didn’t know how it would truly help, but I knew I had to see things differently.
It was the moment I realized there would always be some type of struggle, and I was just called to look toward God and His goodness through it all.
Consider it Pure Joy
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
I don’t know about you, but throughout high school I grew to dislike this verse. Hearing that God puts us through certain trials to test us did not make me want to walk alongside Him. We wonder what makes it all fair and we dwell on the emptiness and the hard stuff, completely overlooking any possible blessings He has placed in our lives. Of course, times like these make it easy to look at what our lives are lacking. Wishing for more anything. More courage, more time, more sympathy, even more love.
“It is the very moments we run away from that have the potential to catalyze change and transformation in you and in me into the way of Jesus to incubate our discipleship.” – John Mark Comer
These hard times are not placed in our lives for God to see if we are good enough or worthy of salvation. The Lord has already won this battle! You have already been deemed worthy. You have already been called enough, just as you are. He wants us to desire a relationship with Him, choosing to walk alongside Him because we know His glory and goodness surround us daily. This is why we must choose to look at the joy in every single circumstance in our lives.
Giving Thanks Even When It Doesn’t Make Sense
“If you are a disciple of Jesus the most hard, difficult, gut-wrenching moments, some of you are in them right now, can become a catalyst to shape you in the image of Jesus. I say can become because a lot of people go through hardship and become bitter and torn out of shape and angry at God and everybody else. So much of it has to do whether or not you follow Jesus through that hardship to the other side.” – John Mark Comer
We’ve talked about giving thanks in the small things and giving thanks in the mundane, but it is so important that we look at this part of our lives to learn how to give thanks in the hard times. We need to be reminding our hearts and minds of God’s goodness on a daily basis. This can sustain us through whatever the future may hold! It means practicing thanksgiving when it makes sense and we have obvious blessings, but it also means practicing thanksgiving when it makes no sense at all. Let us practice thanksgiving especially when it does not make sense.
Whatever you may be currently enduring, know that your God is covering you through it all. He knows every sorrow, every tear (Psalm 56:6). When you look to Him and His goodness all around you, in all forms, your face will become radiant with joy.
I want to leave you with Psalm 34, and encourage you to take about 5 minutes out of your idea to read it the entire thing through. Really let it sink in- sit with it. Here is a little excerpt:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes it boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” – Psalm 34:1-3
Today, on your Everyday Thanksgiving worksheets, we want you to think of and write down 5 things you are thankful for when you think of a hard time you are either currently in or have been through. It can be healing to write these things out and see them from a different perspective.
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