I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart. I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice for He has made me glad.
It is the day after Thanksgiving, and my family of four is slowly rising this morning, one by one, from our Thanksgiving slumber. Our bellies and hearts still full from the copious amounts of food and love we feasted upon yesterday. Thank you, Jesus for family, friends, pumpkin pie and whipped cream…but, mostly Lord, thank you for stretchy pants. Amen? Amen.
“There is always, always, always something to be thankful for”. I placed a sign with that phrase on my dining room wall a few years back. It serves as a daily reminder to me (and I need that reminder) that thanksgiving is so much more than a holiday. It’s a place to enter and abide - a place where hearts are stretched and filled with life, goodness, grace, abundance, and joy. It’s totally our choice to binge and reside in that place of thanksgiving though. And, it’s not always easy to do so, especially when life is full of circumstances beyond our control. The circumstances themselves, hard as they may or may not be, are not nearly as important as what we opt to do with them.
When someone suggests you’re sick it is easy to dwell in that place. And, though it’s of utmost importance we take care of ourselves, it’s also important we realize sickness does not have to become our new address. We have the power within us to overcome that frame of mind. The more focus we place on being ill, the more we begin to believe that’s all we are. “I can’t do this or I’m not capable of that because….” It takes determination, balance, and a thankful heart to stay out of that pit. Sickness doesn’t define you no more than it defines me. Jesus does. I read this profound statement the other day:
“Though we may think we are at the end of our rope, we are never at the end of our hope!”
Praise God He is our hope! I am thankful. The past six months have no doubt been wearisome and many times I’ve felt at the end of my rope. There have been moments my face has been so hot from tears, stress, and anxiety that I wanted to stick my head in the freezer – thinking the cold air would somehow manage to keep me from spontaneous combustion. I have been hard pressed, crushed, perplexed, struck down…but, I’ve not been abandoned. I’ve not been destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9). God’s power is alive and well in me and because of Him I can keep showing up…facing each day with a thankful heart. I may feel at the end of my rope, but I’ve never been at the end of my hope.
We’ve ruled out many things, but we’re still searching for a cause of my health concerns and symptoms. Tuesday I will undergo a kidney biopsy. My physicians now considering lupus nephritis as a potential culprit. Your continued prayers are much appreciated. I don’t want to go through the biopsy. Sitting at home in my stretchy pants and eating pumpkin pie sounds like a much more fun and exciting way to spend the day. But this, this is the circumstance I am in. And, the circumstance itself is not nearly as important as what I opt to do with it.
I’ve been reading lately the book of 2 Corinthians. It is chock-full of reassuring, comforting, God breathed words spoken and gifted to us through the Apostle Paul. Paul penned the heartfelt words of 2 Corinthians around the time period of A.D. 55-57. It blows my mind that something written that long ago is still completely applicable and appropriate for today. God is good. He always knows just what we need at the exact time we need it…even if it’s more than a thousand years later. He’s pretty awesome like that.
The focus of Paul’s message was Christ, not himself. He wanted others to see Christ’s work in him, and he fully acknowledged that his abilities, his strength, and his accomplishments were not the result of anything he himself could do, but rather what Christ was doing in and through him. Preach. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4 Paul writes that those who love the Lord are like jars of clay – frail and fallible. Yet, despite that frailty, they are jars filled with the priceless treasure of Christ’s power dwelling in them.
You guys - I am a jar of clay, frail a fallible, but God is alive and well, and He is at work in and through me. What an honor and privilege that is! Sometimes I just need that reminder – a kick in the old stretchy pants, so to speak.
If there is but one thing you take away from reading this blog, I pray it is this – God’s saving, all consuming, merciful, powerful grace. He is my hope. My strength. My power. My salvation and my song.
It is because of the strength I find in Him I can even remotely begin to have a heart of thanksgiving. A heart that overflows for His glory (2 Corinthians 4:15). Because of Him, in the midst of unmet expectations and unanswered prayers – there is appreciation. On those days when my chin quivers and my eyes fill up with tears – there is gratitude. Because, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
Hurt, anger, frustration, resentment, bitterness…the list goes on – these are all totally normal emotions or feelings, and believe you, me – I experience them. I don’t necessarily know how to avoid them. But, I am learning not to reside in them. And, that my friends makes all the difference in the world. Those feelings strangle and choke when I feast upon and dwell in them. And, you know what? It’s difficult to breathe, much less move from that dwelling place when you’re suffocating. Plus, I’ve already mentioned I’m partial to stretchy pants, pumpkin pie, and breathing. So…
I will choose to enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart. I will choose to enter His courts with praise. I will choose to say this is the day that the Lord has made. And, I will choose to rejoice for He has made me glad.