When Thanksgiving is a Sacrifice
I ride down the road with a battle in my mind about the goodness of God and the season to be jolly. So many things have happened in the last few years that one would never want to assume being a Christian is easy. They say that salvation is easy because it is. You just put your faith in the work that Jesus has done and you are saved. But don’t ever let anyone tell you that you will not have to make sacrifices if you are a follower of Christ. The anointing is far from free. Consider Jesus who after being filled with the Spirit was led to the desert and tempted, tested, tried. He was a man. A divine man granted, but a man who felt the same pain of the flesh you and I do. In fact His dedication to the father cost Him His life. I am in a state of grieving, bordering on a nervous breakdown from the loss and battles that I have fought hard to hold onto my faith. Losing loved ones from death. Three in less than three months. Friends who have walked away when the going got tough. People who stop talking to you when you follow Jesus and not them. And those who abandon you when the family secrets are in jeopardy of being aired into the world. Beginning a church plant, putting my family through the sacrifices that have to be made to do so, and then having it all crumble under your feet. You mind drifts to your sixteen year old daughter not speaking to you and living in another state, with the man that abused you for five years before you had the guts to leave him. Wondering when and if she will come home, and God how can I have another Christmas without her. Forgive them God. Forgive them because they know not what they do. And you let your mind wander because if God is who He says He is, and I am who He says I am, then why is the air being punched out of my stomach by the words of forgiveness spoken out loud so that bitterness can’t settle in when you are threatened and family betrays you again and again and again. And you wonder how you can be truly loved when even they don’t love you. Then you remember your husband. The one who loves you like Jesus and the other three children that run out to meet you when you pull in the driveway and you have to be strong for them. You have to keep the home fires burning. But the fire of hope that you so desperately wanted to give to others is dwindling, and you are barely breathing the breath of the Spirit on it when you find the ability to pray, with something to actually say, and telling all the voices in your head that you will praise Him still. Abba, I am yours, breathe in, Abba, I am yours. Until later in the afternoon when you are faced with the pain from that chronic illness you have been praying about for over seven years. The one that has no cure, and you tell your mind to be silent. At least it’s not deadly. And every praise, every giving of thanks is bone deep and has to be dug to through the pit of your stomach. When you sit in therapy after traveling over twenty miles with panic attacks all night and day until you get there, and then going home and progress has not been made, and you still leave in tears asking God when. Therapy for over seven years with much healing, but whispering, God, when will I be whole. And then you remember He promised. And then you remember you asked for His glory. And then you remember that you have to stop crying and pull yourself together because your kids are home and your husband has to work tonight. And then the bills are due. You decided not to follow through with bankruptcy, and God was faithful in getting your husband that new job, but digging out from under the mountain while your van sits outside in the driveway broken down so your family can’t go to church, and all you want is to see the face of another Christian so you can remember there is hope. When you try and try to sleep at night and all you get is insomnia and you’ve taken all the medication and still awake with the weight of the world on your shoulders and sobs asking God to please come soon. I want to go home, but thy will be done. And you thank Him that he is there in the darkness even though you wish He would speak a word. You put up the tree early this year to remind you of His love for you and the world, but it reminds you of all the Christmas’ when you had families like others and you wish you had a mother to love you now, and a Dad that loved you like Jesus and you are forty years old. And you hope to find that ornament to hang on the tree to memorialize the children in heaven you are waiting to see one day. And you turn up the radio because that song, that one that you love tells you about the God you should praise regardless. And then you read the Psalms and remember that they all went through it too. And you are not in a prison, hiding in a back room reading your Bible, and have freedom, a home, and safety. You are not being hung upside down from a cross. And you are numb from emotional bankruptcy. But you breath deep, blow your nose, and say one more time. God, I’m thankful for your mercy. God I will keep giving thanks each day. Oh, God please accept this sacrifice of praise. Help me find three things to be thankful for again today. Oh, and God, thank you that this depression, too, will pass.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God
continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Heb 13:15 (KJV)
There is a cup of encouragement waiting for you. You are not alone, Beloved. <3 Melinda