By Ruth Baer
Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems to be going so well? At work, at home, at church – both privately and publicly? You’re in the Word and praying for all on your heart? God seems to be on the throne in your experience, and life couldn’t be any sweeter.
Then BAM! Out of the blue something hits you, something horrible happens to a loved one, something you’ve been praying about & thought God was answering, but now you’re not so sure. Your heart hurts, you are overwhelmed with sadness for this loved one – how do you thank God in the midst of that sadness, in the midst of seemingly unanswered prayers? That’s the kind of week I had!
Our pastor’s been preaching on how to integrate our emotions with our faith. You see, we are made in the image of God, and we have emotions, just as He does. As emotional beings, so how do we thank God during the season when things don’t look so good for the future of your loved one?
First and foremost, we run to God’s Word. I run to the Psalms where the psalmist resonates with my feelings. Ps 55:6-8 – I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” Yes, Lord, can I please just run away?
Then there are the imprecatory psalms in which the psalmist calls for God to utterly destroy those horrible people who have done such unjust things! If you don’t know what those are, click here for a description – Oh, Lord, would just please destroy the evil one?
Finally, I find the Psalms that do my heart the most good. Ps 91, an all-time favorite of mine, entreats me to find refuge in my God. Ps 91:1-8 – Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Ah, Lord, the place that I would fly away & hurry to my place of shelter, that’s YOU, Lord?
Secondly, I cry out to God – I argue, I entreat, I weep, I remind Him of His promises, I become completely undone in His presence, for I am brokenhearted. And then He reminds me….
- He reminds me He never changes. He’s the same all-loving, Sovereign God He was the day before when life was going my way. Heb 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- He reminds me He is faithful even when I am unfaithful, even when my loved ones are unfaithful. 2 Tim 2:13 – if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
- He reminds me of His covenant promises, of His faithfulness in Scriptures through the generations – that those promises are for me and my loved ones. Rom 4:16 – Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
Thirdly, as He reminds me, I remember. I remember His character, His promises, His faithfulness and how He has proved them over the course of my life. I remember how He has worked (and still is working) in my own heart, during other times of trials. I remember how He has forgiven me when I sinned, how He protected me when I was really stupid. I remember my loving family and friends rallying around me, helping me. I remember my church community and their love and support. I remember He is my refuge, my shelter! That is where He purifies and heals my heart…and I am grateful!
This Thanksgiving, no matter what you may be struggling with, run to Jesus, in Word and in prayer. Be honest with your feelings and let His mercy, grace and truth wash over you anew.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Col 3:15-16
May you and your family experience Christ’s peace this Thanksgiving and be grateful!