In Trials on
30 November, 2015

How to Truly Give Thanks During the Holidays

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give-thanks-holidays

“To see the King of heaven fall
In anguish to His knees,
The Light and Hope of all the world
Now overwhelmed with grief.
What nameless horrors must He see,
To cry out in the garden:
Oh, take this cup away from me
Yet not my will but Yours.

What took Him to this wretched place,
What kept Him on this road?
His love for Adams curséd race,
For every broken soul.
No sin too slight to overlook,
No crime too great to carry,
All mingled in this poisoned cup
And yet He drank it all.”

{Gethsemane – Keith & Kristyn Getty}

The holidays ~ they have always been my favorite time of the year. I especially love Thanksgiving and Christmas because they’re a time for families to gather together and express gratitude for all the good things God has done in the lives of His children.

But the older I get, the more I realize that it’s also a time for reflecting on the difficulties we face. Because honestly, sometimes those very trials can have more significance in our walk with the Lord than any obvious blessing He could bestow on us.

As I have shared before, there was a season in my life when things had seemingly taken a turn for the worst. During that time, I would continually look at my circumstances and think, “If God loves me, why is He allowing this?”

Up until that point in my life, things had been relatively easy. Sure, I’d hit a few bumps in the road every now and then, but I’d never experienced anything quite like this. And the more I thought about it, the less I could comprehend how I had allowed myself to fall into such a steep, downward spiral.

It felt like my life was out of control.

But there—right there, in the midst of not understanding and struggling to believe—began a new chapter in my life. In this chapter, God would wake me up from my slumber of lukewarm Christianity and reveal to me His perfect love. It would become an exciting, climactic and even romantic chapter of rescue.

But those pages of my life’s story weren’t easy, that’s for sure. And had I known they were coming, I would have run as fast as I could to avoid them.

Looking back, there’s one thing that made all the difference in turning this sinking ship around, and that’s Jesus. In the midst of the rocky waves, for the first time in my life, I actually began to understand the significance of His death. I found my identity in the Cross.

What’s amazing to me about the death and resurrection of Jesus was that He actually knew about the trouble that was coming, yet He obeyed the Father. In Luke 22, we see that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and there withdrew from the disciples to pray. In this passage, it’s obvious He was aware of the suffering set before Him:

“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:39-44

And in the next two passages, we learn of His incredible obedience:

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” Mark 15:34

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” Hebrews 5:7-9

And so Christ took the cup—and He not only took it, but He took it willingly.And He drank the whole thing, just like it says in the Gethsemane lyrics I began this post with. He drank it all, meaning He forever paid the price for our sins. He paved a way for you and me to be forgiven.

But that doesn’t mean our lives will be easy. In fact, when we repent, confess and believe in Jesus Christ, it means there will be both joy and pain that will come. But you see, seasons of difficulty are seasons of joy because they allow us to share in Christ’s sufferings. And when we share in Christ’s sufferings, we also share in His blessings.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:4-12

So, with Thanksgiving now behind us and Christmas on the horizon, let’s thank God for not only the obvious blessings in our lives but also the not-so-obvious ones, too. Thank God that your suffering is making you more like Christ and reminding you what (or who) this life is all about. Thank Him for sending His son to drink the cup–to die for your sins. Thank Him that because of the cup, God is now taking every moment of your life and working it together for your good.

Without some major difficulties in my own life, I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’m so glad I didn’t know what was coming and so thankful I never had an opportunity to escape it. The temporary pain of that season was worth finding my identity in Christ. Forever.

thankful

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1 Comment

  • Unshakable Hope

    Excellent post!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    27 November, 2013 at 12:06 pm Reply
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