Week Two: Thanksgiving First and Faith (On Good and Gritty Days)

For those just jumping into our #ThanksgivingFirst posts, welcome! If you would like to catch up, take a look at the invitation post, here. And the Week One post, on #ThanksgivingFirst and Family, here.  I am a day behind and apologize for that! Ready for Week Two?   Let’s go!  : )

I want to be honest.  It has been a week.  As a person who has been involved in many different jobs, with so many different people, my friends, family and facebook have expressed such a wide variety of responses to the election that I have found myself feeling torn and contemplative.

In addition to the election, I have several people who are dear to me who are currently in really difficult and painful situations, others facing hard family experiences.  It is a lot to take in.

When I decided to do this series of blog posts, I chose to think through Thanksgiving and Faith this week.  It was one part of a plan. Who would have known about the turmoil, nationally and personally, that would precede this post?

And I will tell  you that there is no trite expression of faith that will do it for me right now.  No cat-poster-slogan is actually offering much comfort as I watch my country fall into conflict and try to comfort those I love. Looking around, I know full well that I am not the only one who feels weighed down.

Yep, its been a week.

This is not sounding very Thanksgiving-y, is it?

Hang with me a sec.

When I was in college, I was just learning about the Bible and so much of it was brand new to me.  One day I came upon the book of Lamentations and I was so taken with these passages that seemed to speak to my own personal struggles.

In Lamentations 3, I read:

I have been deprived of peace;
    I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
    and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

So many familiar feelings… being deprived of peace, feeling downcast.  There are days when I feel that way still.  Maybe you do, too.   Parenting is no small task and finding that we need to face bumps in that road can be overwhelming.  Facing times when our kids are sick or struggling, misbehaving or testing boundaries… it can be a lot. Parenting is not for the weak, truth be told.  And consistently and intentionally working to strengthen your family is big work… big work that comes with no instruction manual.

As I sat with these verses, I found myself drawn to the truth at the end… I read it again and again.  Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail…

I found myself wondering: what does compassion mean? Can we define that?

As a college student sitting in my residence hall, I got up and grabbed a desk dictionary and looked it up.  My well-worn reference book (a relic these days) read:  Compassion- the ability and desire to suffer alongside.  

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed because his ability and desire to suffer alongside us is new every morning. Great is his faithfulness.  He does not tire of our fear or questioning.  He does not roll his eyes at our repeated failing.  He is not put off by our faithlessness and doubt.  And when we fall on our knees and pray again and again for the same thing that breaks our heart, he hears it like it is a brand new prayer.  He wants (actually desires) to come alongside and not only be with us in it, but feel it, and experience it all right along with us… willingly.  Willingly.  

I don’t know what you face today.  I don’t know what is breaking your heart or what struggle you are staring down.  But, I do know that we are not alone today.  I do know that the very one who created you is not floating somewhere far away.  He is drawing as close as can be and allowing your feelings to be real and present to him as well.

Some days are awfully unsure.  Sometimes we have no idea what the next step will be.  The holidays may be coming but there are so many of us who feel peace-deprived and downcast…

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope…

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed. His compassion, his desire and ability to suffer alongside us, is new every morning.

Every morning.  

Lean into that truth today, friends.  No matter where you are. On the good days and the gritty, you are loved and seen and known and totally awash in grace.

And that is something to be grateful for, indeed.

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