I stared at my computer for days trying to write a blog post to accompany these photos, but the words were just not coming. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year, and with all that I have in my life to be thankful for, this should have been a straightforward easy post to write. I kept reading our post from last year, hoping to be inspired. Yet, for some reason the words just wouldn’t come.
I finally gave up last night and just posted these images without any text. I was relieved to just be done, but disappointed in myself that I didn’t write anything. Thanksgiving is rich in meaning and there is so much potential depth to the holiday. I went to bed discouraged that I couldn’t find a way to articulate that in written form.
I woke up early this morning to finish up some holiday baking, and to prepare a few last dishes before we head over to my in-laws home later today. Although I was tempted to jump out of bed and get my day started, I forced myself to just stop and be still. I decided before I could get out of bed I needed to spend time thanking God for at least twenty blessings in my life. I initially thought this would be a quick prayer, but I decided I wanted to thank God for more than just my material possessions. Don’t get me wrong… I am very thankful for the house we live in, the car we drive, the clothes on our back, the toys we play with and the food we eat… but I am fully aware that if you take those things away, my life is still filled with things to be thankful for. My heart was longing to give thanks for what really makes my life richer and fuller… the blessings that really matter most.
As I laid in bed praying, my thoughts took a journey through the years of my life and all the ways God has been faithful, proving Himself over and over. With my wife still sleeping beside me, my mind drifted to our growing baby within her, the miracle of life and this blessing within our marriage. Although we’ve only been married for three years, it is hard to remember what life was like before I met her. But this morning as I took time to be still, it all came back to me.
Thanksgiving five years ago was probably one of the saddest days of my life. I remember it so clearly. I had recently turned thirty years old. It seems comical now, but at the time, that felt really old. All of my friends had been married for about eight years, and most of them had at least one child. I felt behind in life. I felt alone. I felt like it was pointless to pray anymore. I was angry with God because He hadn’t provided someone. I questioned His faithfulness. I was envious of all of my friends and in all honesty I think I even resented how happy they all seemed. I remember people would often times tell me how blessed I was because I had everything a person could possibly want. Sure… I had the possessions in life that many strive for in this world, but I remember thinking I would trade it all to find someone to love. I wanted to be married. I wanted to become a father. Thanksgiving 5 years ago was rough. In many ways it was rock bottom, as I clearly remember giving up and accepting I would be alone the rest of my life.
I had forgotten all about that Thanksgiving, the sadness in my life and the longings in my heart that I thought would never come to fruition. Although it is not fun remembering painful times in my life, I realized this morning how important it is for me to recall that part of my journey. Without remembering the pain, frustration, disappointment and loneliness I felt, I can’t truly appreciate all that I have right now and be thankful for the answered prayers and faithfulness of God.
The two richest blessings in my life today are my wife and our unborn child that is due in just four weeks. What I am most thankful for today, however, is God’s faithfulness in my life… for answering prayers I had stopped praying… for knowing my deepest longings… for choosing who would be the best partner for me in life… for knowing the right time to bring her into my life… for allowing me the opportunity to love someone… for giving us the joy of bringing life into this world.
Although today is supposed to be filled with joy and thanksgiving, I imagine there are a few people out there who will have a Thanksgiving like I did five years ago. I am guessing there are people who are lonely, or suffering with an illness, or hurting financially, or going through divorce, or struggling to conceive or don’t see their dreams coming to fruition or maybe even just feel like praying is pointless because they just go unanswered. To those people I say… I hear you! I know your pain and sorrow! But… just hold on… there is hope… keep praying… there is grace for today and new mercies for tomorrow.
I truly hope that no matter what circumstances you find yourself in today, whether in plenty or in want, and despite answered or unanswered prayers, that you can choose thanksgiving, joy and hope.
“I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;