Being thankful is so much more than appreciating the “good” things in life. It means you are able to give thanks no matter what. Today I’m sharing some things that have been on my heart lately, and giving thanks to God for everything!
This Thursday is Thanksgiving, which means this week will be full of bloggers, Instagrammers, Facebookers, Tweeters and YouTubers talking about all the things they are thankful for. They will say they are thankful for the food they eat, the roof over their heads, the clothes on their backs, and maybe even for their families or for the church they belong to. I, in fact, was planning on writing that very thing, until I realized that I couldn’t. Yes, I am thankful for all those things (and much, much more), but my heart is heavy this Thanksgiving. The reality of truly being thankful in every circumstance has never meant more to me than it does now. And I can’t gloss over what it means to be “thankful” when I am finally understanding what it really means.
The past month has been one of the hardest months of my life. I have lived a very sheltered life in the fact that I was protected from tragedy and heartache for the past 23 years. Yes, I have seen death in my family, and heard of people going through horrible things, but I was too young or too far removed for it to mean much to me. But on October 9th my world came crashing down when my dad called me and told me he had been diagnosed with cancer. I never truly understood what it meant to have a broken heart until I saw my dad and knew I couldn’t help him. The unknown, the fear of what the future holds, and the knowledge that things may never be the same tore me apart. When we found out he had stage 4 lymphoma, that it could possibly be a rare form of the cancer (although we have since learned that it is not), and that my dad’s journey was barely starting, I didn’t know what to do. My dad is my superhero, and the person I look up to the most.
I couldn’t believe that this was happening to him.
Yet in the midst of that, I had an indescribable peace. It is so true when Paul said, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phillippians 4:7). My perfect world was falling apart, but I rested assured in God’s sovereignty. Seeing my Dad continue to set his gaze on the Lord, and constantly point back to Christ gave me the strength to do the same. And every time they went to the doctor, good news or bad news, he still turned back to praise God. He reminded me that I needed to give thanks to the Lord in every circumstance, not just when things are going well. I still don’t know or understand why God chose my dad to go through this, but every day I see more and more how He is using this to make me and my family more like Christ. As it says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We may not see the good now, but I rest in knowing that He is in control.
I recently listened to this sermon by Paul Washer about being thankful. He said that to be thankful means we are habitually giving thanks for what is going on. This attribute is a mark of being a true Christian, and we can only be this way because of the grace of God. When we look at all He has done, all He will do, and all He continues to do, how can we not be thankful? And then, when people go through things like cancer, and we find ourselves asking “Why?”, we can have peace, because God is using those circumstances to conform that person to be more like Christ.
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my dad. I am thankful for the example he has set for me and my family. I am thankful for my church family and my friends who have been lifting us up in prayer. I am thankful for the ability to still be young and able to share the Gospel with those who need to hear it. I am thankful for this cancer, because it has brought me closer to the Lord and to my family. And I am thankful for my dad’s sickness, because God is using it for His glory and to mold my dad to be more like Christ.
When I shared this post with him the other day, this is what he wrote back: I rejoice only in the fact that my name is written in Heaven (Luke 10:20). The good news is that God has provided a way of reconciliation for a sinner like me through Jesus Christ. Any news beyond that is simply “news” that we live through in this life.
I am so thankful to have a father like him, who constantly pushes me towards the Lord. And by the grace of God, he is still able to be used by Him. All glory to God!