When Giving Thanks Is Hard
It's the season of giving, the season of loving, and sharing. The season we gather with family and friends to give thanks followed by celebrations of the birth of our Messiah and Savior. It's meant to be filled with love and hope, peace and kindness, comfort and joy. None of that grandeur is lost on me on this day of giving thanks.
But what do you do when giving thanks feels hard, maybe even impossible? When you don't feel grateful for the place you're in. When grief has overtaken the emptiness in your heart. When despair has filled all the places where hope should be. When celebration looks and feels different because of the circumstances you've faced. When peace has been rocked by chaos and confusion. When the promise of love has left you broken.
"But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord." Jonah 2:9
From the belly of the whale Jonah cried out to God. In his distress he gave an offering of thanksgiving despite the very desperate situation he was in. I don't know what pit you may find yourself in but if anyone had a reason to despair it was certainly Jonah. The word "sacrifice" in the text also references Psalm 50:14-15:
"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."
This idea of sacrificing thank offerings - this opportunity for us to thank Him, honor Him, even when thankfulness is the very least of feelings we feel - may be a true act of sacrifice. Not necessarily because we are thankful for what we are feeling or facing but thanking Him for Who He is, for being our Deliverer and the One we can call upon in the day of our trouble. It may not always be willing. It may not come from a heart of gratitude. It may be with a spirit of brokenness and despair. It may be from the belly of the pit of hopelessness. Then, even then, from deep within, well past the hurt and sorrow, grief and pain, we find the goodness of the Lord deeply rooted within Who He is and all we're going through even when what we face and feel is anything but good.
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him." Psalm 28:7
Today is the day we stop and give thanks. It may also be a day that doesn't come easily for you. It may be filled with pain and loneliness, grief and despair, but on this day of giving thanks we can call upon the Lord to be our strength. We can trust Him for Who He is even when we can't make sense of what we're going through. We can rely on Him to be our defense and helper and in that, in those promises, we can give thanks to HIM. When giving thanks is hard and doesn't feel like something we can give, He asks us to sacrificially give our offering of thanks. In my own strength it may not be possible but in the strength of His goodness it is my only response.
Today, Lord, I give You thanks for You are truly good.