seasoned for thanksgiving…
November 2, 2017
Today, I have finished the second reading of the book of Psalms since Tyler died. This time, my eyes were not filled with sorrow and the beauty and depth and power of God’s character was revealed in a more intense manner. I have stood in awe of His love for me. It is so personal, intimate, passionate, gentle, intentional…He pursues me daily and i feel wooed over and over and over again. My heart is full of gratitude, but I long for my home set apart from this broken world.
I have a unusually odd ability to remember dates and times…October 24, 2016, was the first time we heard Tyler’s heart…if I’d have known then what I know now; I would have sat and listened to it for hours! I remember the great joy I experienced when I saw that tiny heart beating so quickly. So, last Tuesday, I thought was going to be a hard one, but God wrapped me in a blanket of gratitude…I was watching my niece that day and God gave me a beautiful gift as I rocked her to sleep and found myself praising Him for the sweetness of life in the chest of this baby, and several other little ones that have entered this world in the last year. I am grateful for the little lives that were awarded to so many.
November 2, 2018
As I read this journal entry from last year, I can recall everything about holding my sweet niece on that October day. She and Tyler were just 6 months apart. A lifetime of friendship, or so we thought, would lie ahead of them. I drove to my sister’s home that morning feeling so weighted by the “should’ve been” mentality. It’s a terrible place to go. I recommend that if or when you go there, you take a step back and you fill your heart and mind with songs of thanksgiving. I was so pleasantly surprised by God on that day. He not only covered me in a blanket of gratitude, He brought my heart that was full of complaints into a place of worship and praise.
“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him.”
To keep true to my sister’s schedule I went to lay Reese down for an afternoon nap, but found myself to be the benefactor of the sweetest of rests within my soul. I sang lullabies that I thought I would sing to Tyler. I studied the most delicate features of her precious face and watched her deep blue eyes finally disappear under her long lashes. I kept her on me for at least an hour, soaking in every breath she breathed, receiving the work of the Spirit as my heart began to proclaim words of thanksgiving to God. It’s a place I never anticipated going on that October day. One I recount so often. It has become easy to use gratitude to counteract the overwhelming feelings that loss serves our family. Well, let me retract that “easy” statement…gratitude, thanksgiving is powerful in the way of redirecting our hearts. I’ve shared about our family wall of “gratefulness” that we fill each year. Last year I desired with all my heart to declare thanksgiving for Tyler’s death. I had already witnessed so much goodness from the death of our boy, yet I could not bring myself to offer this thanksgiving.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I’ve known this verse since a small child. I’ve been able to offer thanksgiving throughout so many trials in life, yet the biggest trial thus far stared me in the face and I was left saying thanks for so many things, but not his death! I informed God that i did not know how to offer That heart of thanksgiving to Him.
I wrestled with Him over this verse up until 2 weeks ago. In the quiet of my home on an appointed Tuesday morning, unbeknownst to me, my heart was stirred and the words flowed from my mouth. As I spoke a new song of thanksgiving, so many names of people I know and some I’ve never met, flooded my mind. Liquid language became my only form of communication with the Father who deserves all thanksgiving and praise. It is He who received all the tears of thanksgiving that I never thought I would be able to surrender.
One week passed and I sat in front of my dearest of friends who expressed to me the gratitude she feels for the friendship we have and that it was through Tyler’s death that a new bond of friendship was born. Two days later my sister, texts me and asks, “what verse over the last 18 months do you feel has impacted me the most?”
My first guess was wrong but following a quick context clue the next verse I offered was victorious in so many ways.
“Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and proclaim his great deeds with songs of joy.”
“Bingo and amen!”
One week, after the offer of thanksgiving that was shared only between me and my heavenly Father, was His intimate fellowship confirmed through the words of my closest people. A sacrifice it was…easy, it was not…but isn’t that the wondrous work of the Spirit that guides us into wisdom and understanding. Doesn’t thanksgiving free us from our bondage of want and desire, even if for a moment?
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country. “~ C.S. Lewis
Maybe you have found yourself in the same situation as I found myself last year? Maybe the circumstances of your life have been so painful that thanksgiving is no where near your vocabulary? I like Lewis’s quote. It makes me think of the One we should model in our sacrifices of Thanksgiving. It makes me cling to the hope of my forever country that awaits me.
We are told that Jesus was well acquainted with suffering. He lived 33 years on this earth constantly offering His heart of thanksgiving to God despite His circumstances of becoming human. On the night He would willingly go to the cross, Jesus offered thanksgiving. He patiently awaited death, humbly bore the shame of our sin, and left this world awaiting our arrival in paradise. On the night I would labor and give birth to my son, I did not offer thanksgiving for my circumstances. Yet, I am instructed to be an imitator of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). My stubborn heart can prevent my mirroring of my Savior. But the flesh within me never wins out; I was given a new union, which promises constant change and image bearing. It took me being seasoned for this thanksgiving. 18 months to get me to that place of offering my thanksgiving for the homegoing of my child, and by God, He did it!
“And be thankful — let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you, as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude to God in your hearts. That is, everything you do or say, do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
As the modern culture dubs this month as the season of Thanksgiving, I desire to pray for the hearts that are wrestling with this idea of offering thanks when their circumstances seem so dark or painful. It’s counterintuitive yet in doing so, it allows us to be clothed in humility and receive the honor of bestowing the glory upon the only one who deserves the praises of thanksgiving.
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is teaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:15
May your season of thanksgiving be secured in Christ. May you trust the work of the Spirit as He wraps you in a blanket of gratitude and changes your heartache to be accompanied with thanksgiving. May we all be seasoned for expressing our gratitude as we remember the sacrifice He made on our behalf.