22 Nov Choosing To Be Thankful
As I stare outside and look at the leaves changing colors, the water is so calm that it looks like glass, the birds are flying around and singing, and it seems as if all of creation is in complete, peaceful harmony. I can’t help but reflect on how when we are in complete harmony with God, there is a peace that passes all understanding.
Unfortunately, this year hasn’t always been filled with peace. I felt like it was even more chaotic than last year. Like there were many more questions than there were answers. It was a trying year for my wife and I; a year that held more heartache than joy. My wife lost her mom and biological father, her stepfather was diagnosed with stage four cancer and I lost my grandmother (who was more like a mom to me), and we had friends turn their backs on us. It seemed like every time we turned around something else was happening. We kept asking the question “Why?”…”Why was this happening to us?” and “Why are bad things happening one after the other?””
What I experienced this year, though, was in every trial and heartache we went through, there was another chance to make the choice to get closer to God and encounter his goodness. He showed us how much of a good Father he is. Even in the heartache of loss and the rejection of friends, we found peace in him.
There were a couple of verses that ran through my mind during these times:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:28 (NLT) “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 is a verse I typically reflect on when circumstances are less than ideal. A saying I repeat often is, “If it’s not good, God’s not done.” This is a phrase that my wife and I held on to. From the first hard hit, we began to pray, lay every situation at the feet of Jesus, and asked him to show up in a mighty way. Jesus did just that. We were filled with such a peace that was indescribable—a peace that radiated to others around us. People often asked, “How can you have such peace in these times?” That answer was the easiest one that we could answer; it was one name and one name alone, Jesus.
Through this peace, we were able to see God as the good, good Father he is. We can now reflect and are thankful for the great impact our parents and grandparents had on us. They brought so much good into our lives by the way they lived theirs. They lived a life pleasing to God, always pointing us to him. I can truly say that during this time, I was able to find joy and even be thankful. It was possible through prayer, with laying our hurt down at the feet of Jesus, and just simply asking for his peace and goodness. I found out that if I drew closer to him, he came close to me. It has been a time for me to experience him in a way that I never have before. Like I said earlier, everything we go through is another opportunity for us to grow closer to God and experience his goodness.
You see, even in a time that is chaotic and filled with tragedy all around, I am so thankful that I have a heavenly father that I can turn to and who will bring peace in times of storms. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT)
Maybe you have been through a similar year. Maybe you have faced heartache or chaos. Let Jesus have all of your hurt, whatever you may be enduring. Let his peace come upon you. Let him show you that he is a good Father. Jesus is waiting for you to cast all your burdens upon him, and to replace them with peace and rest. As hard as it may be, be thankful for what he wants to show you and find comfort in, “If it’s not good, God’s not done.”
Online Host Director
Wil has been going to The Journey for nearly five years. He was serving on the Emergency Response Team (ERT) until the pandemic, when he began serving in digital ministry. When we went totally digital during the beginning of the pandemic, Wil began serving as an online host, and is now the Online Host Director, leading those who serve online.