I can’t believe it’s already December, and yet on the other hand, it feels like we’ve been in 2020 for ages. I was thankfully able to have a great deal of normalcy this year, and though I wasn’t affected in some of the ways my friends were, I still experienced pain and loss too. It wasn’t pandemic related, but it overwhelmed me just the same.
I had been navigating hurt in several friendships, but in this time of isolation, the rifts in my relationships have hurt more. I battled loneliness and heartache. I fought off offense and anger. I can’t say I’m fully on the other side of it all, but the Lord has been sustaining me.
Now, with Thanksgiving behind us and Advent upon us, I’m finding myself struggling to feel what I ought to feel this holiday season. I’m not a pessimist nor am I an optimist. I tend to fall into the realist category. In the midst of the valley, I know what I should thank God for, but it’s also hard to see through the clouds at the top of the mountain to notice all the joy. My heart desperately wants to live in a state of perpetual gratitude, but I often see the lack, the loss, and all that is not yet. There has been some restoration in my friendships, but hopelessness lies in wait to steal any joy the Lord has for me.
I hold both the hard reality of my life and the bits of hope, and I turn to God’s Word to guide me when my feelings can’t seem to catch up. I turn to Psalm 100 and read:
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His loving kindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
These words remind me of the truth I so easily forget: God is God, and no one can compare to His greatness. We were made by Him and for Him, and He calls us His very own. We are His sheep, dearly and wholly loved by Him. He has blessed us with His goodness, and He is faithful to us throughout our lives. And it doesn’t end with us! It keeps going to all future generations.
I read the psalm over and over again because my heart needs to soak in the truth. Slowly but surely, I start to remember all the moments where I experienced God’s goodness and faithfulness to me. And each one gives me reason to give thanks and to rejoice.
Regardless of my circumstances, I can return to the truth that God is God. No matter what my emotions say, He is still good and He loves me more than anyone else can. Despite what others might say about me, the truth is that God made me in His likeness and He calls me worthy.
The hope of this season for me and you, for all of us feeling lonely and heavy hearted, is that the Lord is near. He is everything we need and everything we desire. And that’s why we can give thanks, shout joyfully, serve with gladness, and sing praise.
Are you struggling to be thankful? Let’s remember who God has been and what He has done, and let’s name at least one thing we can be thankful for.
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