Thankfulness During the Hard Times

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This year has been a difficult one for my family. After two years of fighting to save our business, we were left with no choice but to close. Yet, while our financial struggles continue, God remains faithful. And, though I am not a person who cries very often or very easily, He has repeatedly brought me near tears with His provision and blessings in our time of need. So, I want to take some time this Thanksgiving to express my gratitude to God for all that He has done and continues to do to care for us.

It has been said, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (King David, Psalm 37, verse 25) Throughout my life, God has proven this to be true, but never more than during the past year and I am so thankful for all of those that have made themselves available for God to use as vessels of His love.

We have been supernaturally blessed with gifts of food and money, my husband provided with work, and been delivered a Thanksgiving basket by a family who placed us on a list without our knowledge or request. Twice we have even been given some time away that we could not have otherwise afforded. God has spoken to me through all of this that He loves us more than we could ever know, and is always there to provide for not just our needs, but for our peace and happiness as well.

Every time God’s provision comes, I am overwhelmed by it and even though I should not be surprised by the actions of my loving Father, I know that His hand in my life should never be taken for granted.

Jeremiah-29-11

When we were on our honeymoon in Cancun, my husband took a walk down the beach in the early morning hours to pray. He was feeling some stress about his new role as husband and provider at the young age of 19, when God spoke to him. He reminded Matt who our Provider was. Of course, he knew the answer. Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider, would always be there to generously provide all that we need with enough left over to share with others. (2 Corinthians 9:8, NLT) This promise has carried us through 17 years of marriage and 8 children. When we were younger, we watched God provide him with a great job two months before the birth of our first child and then with promotions right before we welcomed each of our next two children. That still amazes me 12 years later!

We have also seen God’s hand on our physical health. When I was in first grade, I began fainting occasionally during school. It increased during second grade and I was eventually hospitalized while the doctors ran tests in an attempt to discover the cause. They never did. My parents prayed for healing and tried everything to help me, but nothing worked.  Finally, in 6th grade, my dad’s boss gave him a notepad with Philippians 4:13 printed at the bottom of each page. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” My dad passed it on to me and told me to pray this scripture every time I started to feel like I was about to pass out. I started doing this faithfully, trusting God to heal me and deliver me from this affliction. I only had one incident that year and that was the last time!

My husband and I started dating very young. I was 14 and he was 15. During his Senior year of high school, I attended a track meet with him 45 minutes from our hometown. While we were driving back, we decided it would be a good idea to use the time to get some studying in for the Bible College class we were taking together. So, I opened my book and read aloud to both of us, stopping to quiz him on some of the questions that would likely be on our weekly test. He exited the Interstate onto a dirt road that led to my house and I continued to read. The road was unfamiliar to him and, having grown up in the city, he was inexperienced at driving on dirt roads. While I was reading, we hit a curve that he wasn’t expecting right over the crest of a hill. The car began to slide on some loose gravel. He was unable to regain control and the car began to roll. It was all over so quickly. We got out of the car and, being young, didn’t fully grasp the miracle that had just happened. We came out of this potentially life-threatening situation virtually unscathed. My wrist was sore from bracing myself with my hand on the ceiling and he had a small cut on his nose. We were walking around when someone stopped to help us. I cannot remember if they had a cell phone or just went back to their home to call my parents. An ambulance came and insisted on taking us to the hospital to get checked out. We were fine and went back to my house. I remember being a little sore, but nothing significant. Later, my dad noticed that the roof of the car on the driver’s side was raised up, while the passenger’s side was caved in. This may not seem like much, but to my 6’6” then boyfriend it was nothing short of a miracle. At 5’0” tall back then, I had plenty of room above my head, even with the caved-in roof. Certainly, what the enemy (the devil) meant for harm, God used for His glory, even to this day!

And, you know, that is how God always works. When we love Him and are doing our best to follow Him and allow His Lordship in our lives, he will take every situation, no matter how difficult it may be or how dark things may seem, and turn it around for our good. He will provide for us and care for us in good times and in bad and we must never forget Who our Provider is.  During our trials, we cannot allow ourselves to become angry and embittered against God, knowing that the rain falls on the righteous as well as the wicked. And, when we are experiencing God’s favor and blessings, we must not become prideful and arrogant, thinking that we have done anything on our own, but remembering that it is God alone who causes the sun to shine on both the righteous and the wicked and that it is Him that gives us the ability to produce wealth. (Matthew 5:45; Deuteronomy 8:18)

I read a devotional today by the late Pastor David Wilkerson. He spoke of the need to develop a total dependence on God and I believe that this is why we sometimes go through wilderness times. He wants us to learn to trust Him completely for all that we need and desire and He knows that it is not always possible to teach us these lessons during times of ease.  But, even when He is guiding us through times of trial, we need to know that He will always provide and always meet our needs. My life has been evidence of this, and I’m sure that yours has as well if you will just stop to remember the ways that He has been there for you throughout your years on Earth.

Tomorrow, many throughout this nation may find it hard to celebrate, unsure of what they have to be psalms3418thankful for. Two women that I care about are entering into their first holidays without their husbands. They are both abandoned, one by unfaithfulness and the other by suicide. I pray for them and their children that God would grant peace and comfort during this time and remind them of the good that He has given them despite their current situations. I hope that they are reading this now and that, as they look into their children’s beautiful faces, they will remember how much they still have that makes this life worth living.

Perhaps you are facing a wilderness in your life as well. If you are, take some time during the next few days to remind yourself of what God has done for you. No matter how hard of a life you have lived, there will be times that you will see God’s provision if you just look hard enough. My grandma lived through poverty as a child, divorce from her first husband and the suicide of her second husband, my grandfather. Yet, God turned her life around and I was blessed to love one of the most faithful women I have ever known.

Today, as I prepare my grandma’s sweet potatoes for our meal tomorrow, I remember the decades of Thanksgivings that we celebrated with her before she went on to be with the Lord two years ago. While life can be hard – it certainly was for my grandma for awhile – God is faithful and He loves us more than we can ever know. Remember His blessings in the past and look forward to His blessings in the days to come. In the meantime, lean on God for peace and provision. He is able.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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