Facing and Finding Thanksgiving When You are Grieving

November 27, 2019

There are so many times in life when it feels like we are being tested beyond are limits and we find ourselves at the end of our rope. Circumstances can seem to pile on again and again and soon we feel crushed and brokenhearted under the weight of it all.

And as we approach this holiday season with Thanksgiving before us tomorrow, I am well aware that many of you are having some broken-hearted private broken moments behind the scenes. You are bravely and courageously putting on a smile, cooking the huge thanksgiving meal, facing the happy crowds of people in the stores and at your work, but inside you are weeping.

In my own life it seems like this past year has been the most difficult of my life...there have been more tears than smiles, more sobbing than laughter, and more hopelessness than happiness. Some of these things have been public (like the loss of my precious daddy) and some have been extremely personal and private. I find myself fighting back tears as I struggle to hold on to hope and faith and I weep with those of you who find yourselves in a similar place this holiday season. 

get it. I really do. It is hard to face and find thanksgiving when you are brokenhearted and when your dreams feel like they are turning to dust and everything around you is seemingly in ashes. Maybe like me you may be having a few crying sessions that come from the deep recesses of your heart.

Maybe you are a mama who longs to have reconciliation with a child and the holidays remind you of the deep wounds that still exist. You wonder if the holidays will ever hold joy again as you watch families gather and you see the empty seat of the child you raised before you.

Maybe you are in a marriage where you long to have things thriving and you find that instead of moving forward together you find yourselves drifting farther and farther apart. As you watch happy couples before you, you doubt if joy could ever be found again in your relationship.

Or maybe you are unemployed and have been trying so hard to find a job with no luck. You dread the upcoming holidays as you struggle to provide for daily needs let alone the "extras" and struggle to have hope.

Maybe you are struggling through the heartbreaking road of infertility and dread checking the mailbox for the holiday cards that announce more and more births. You weep as you hold the cards, longing for the child you have always prayed for.

Maybe you are walking through a loss from many years ago or recently that still has your heart shattered like we are.

Maybe you are still walking through the journey of chronic illness and struggling through pain and sickness that no one can understand.

Maybe you are heading to a thanksgiving family gathering that you are dreading. Maybe you are single and longing for the thanksgiving family gathering and find yourself alone again this holiday with no invitations or promises of things changing.

Maybe, well maybe, there are reasons that are to painful to discuss and you want to have this holiday season pass as quickly as possible.

This week I was talking with a dear friend and she said something that I have been reflecting on ever since. She said (in tears) after an unimaginably difficult situation has arisen, "I just don't understand Rebecca. Why is life so easy for some people and so hard for others?" I cried with her, understanding exactly what she means and where her heart is at. Some of you reading this are nodding your heads as you are wondering the same thing.

Life is hard. In my own personal life these past ten years have been filled with difficult circumstance after difficult circumstance. Some of these things I have shared in my books and on the blog- like an ex-fiance' who walked out just a few short months before our wedding to fighting several diseases and illnesses to shattered pain and loss and to dealing with such severe pain and sickness to the loss of my hero, my daddy ...that there have been days that I have wondered if I will be able to take another breath.

Other things have not been shared in such a public space because they are so incredibly personal and private. Recent days have brought its own challenges and heartbreaks. Life does. Things happen that seem so insurmountable that we think that we will never recover or heal and it often seems like there is tragedy at every corner and heartbreak instead of laughter is what our future holds.

And yet in this hurt... in these circumstances where it feels like we can't even breathe... there is a thanksgiving that can be found. Not in the food or the circumstances that we long or wish for but in the gift of faith.

I came across Psalm 26:3 a couple of years ago which states; "For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance of your faithfulness."
 I have read this verse once a month for the past five years but this time it really jumped out at me. I was stopped in my tears and forced to ponder... Am I really always mindful of God's unfailing love? And...  if I was wouldn't I be viewing some things in my life that I am going through in a different way?

In tears and a shattered heart that is hurting I can admit that yes, I would.

In admitting this I am forced to see the concept of Thanksgiving and gratitude in a completely different way then I have considered before. Instead of just listing out my thankfulness I am forced in the painful brokenhearted season to write lists etched deep in my heart of the Lord's goodness and mercy to me each and every day. To be always mindful - not just for this day or for Thanksgiving tomorrow but for each and every day.

Henry Ward Beecher once said: 

"The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" 

Maybe right now in your grief there isn't anything that you can think of to thank Him for or to find the good in right now. That is okay friends. It truly is. I am reaching out across this space to give you a gentle hug. I am struggling myself a lot as we approach this first thanksgiving without my precious dad and climbing this mountain with you. I am confident that despite our heartache we will find that as we look to God's faithfulness we will find grace that will meet us each moment.

For it is in this tender grace that we will find true thanksgiving. Not for a thing or a circumstance or a person. But for Him. 
For Faith. 
For love. 
For Hope

Each and Every day. 

"So I never lose sight of your love, Your faithfulness has steadied my steps..."
-Psalm 26:3, the passion translation-

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