A little over ten days ago, America celebrated Thanksgiving. Now the country is in full preparation for Christmas…I wish the focus on gratitude could continue. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but it isn’t because of the family traditions and good food; it’s for the focus on gratitude. I love the fact that the country where I live has a holiday where the focus is being grateful. It has a long tradition in the United States; from the first pilgrims giving thanks for safe passage and a plentiful harvest, to President George Washington following the Revolutionary War, and even President Abraham Lincoln calling for a national day of thanks for our country during the Civil War. For me, being grateful includes giving thanks for the many hardships that have made me into the person I am today and have only strengthened my faith through the years.
I’m not saying that I am thankful for the pain, but I am grateful for how God uses that pain to bring strength to my faith. Only one of the trials I have dealt with is living with a chronic pain condition. Hardship of any kind is difficult to be thankful for; it seems wrong to be grateful for pain. In truth, the world would have us act in the exact opposite way; giving in to anger, bitterness and despair. It is only through the grace of Christ that any of us can be grateful for pain.
Everyone has things in their lives that are difficult. There are adversities that seem harder than others to deal with, but how can we understand another person’s pain unless we have experienced our own. I am infinitely more grateful for the blessings in my life because of the trials that I have come through and am happy that I can understand the pain of others. Living with a Chronic Pain condition is something that I have had difficulty being grateful for experiencing. Having an invisible disease can be one of the hardest things for others to understand and it has helped me to see that I don’t have to see the thing causing someone pain to give them comfort.
America is a blessed nation. There are so many people who are blessed with prosperity, but there are also those who are suffering. I recently took a trip to New York City, and the suffering I saw on the streets and the people who just walked by saddened my heart. Living in a rural community, doesn’t make me any better if I don’t help those who are suffering in my own community or teach my children to see those who are downtrodden. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my stomach. Those of us who have so much, should be grateful for the blessings we have; even in our pain.
I believe that God uses the pain of this world to bring us closer to Him. I also think most people can find something in their lives to be grateful for, even if they are suffering. My question to those of you who are reading this and don’t believe in God, is: who are you grateful to? If you say, “your parents”, “your boss”, or someone else, let me challenge you to think about where they got the ability to bless you. I believe every good and perfect gift comes from above, and this Thanksgiving, as with every one for the past thirty plus years, I am most grateful for my salvation; that I have only through the grace, mercy and love that comes from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions – Abraham Lincoln, November 1864
Read the full proclamation here: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=69998