This year, I have stood by hospital beds watching cancer and strokes and heart disease touch the lives of loved ones. I have watched friends walk the painful road of losing a parent. I have witnessed friends whose dream of holding their new son never came to be because the birth mother vanished. I have felt the heart ache of friends loose their battle against addiction. I have witness the embarrassment of a veteran who no longer had use of his hands. I have cried for those who had a second chance, but now face another time behind bars. I have shared tears with those who feel rejected by their own faith community. I have seen friendships crumble. I have helped carry the burden of infidelity and divorce of friends who never saw it coming. I have prayed for those who left the hospital and returned home to a nursery that would remain empty. I have listened to conversations of frustration and self-hate with men who call the streets of Richmond home. I have been on the sidelines of friends who month after month long to hear the words "you're pregnant" verses "I'm sorry, not this time."
I could go on.
It's not challenging to find gratitude as you prepare for a wedding, or in Sunday morning baby snuggles, or in nights spent around fire pits with friends. But in times of loss, fear and loneliness it's easier to question a God who is suppose to be good and we often find ourselves wrestling with counting it all joy. This afternoon, as my soul finds silence, it's the faces and the stories of those above that have over-flooded my heart with thanksgiving for a God who is faithful and who is good.
Through walking the rocky roads with these loved ones, I have witness unshakeable faith. I have felt the presence of a faithful God. And I have seen my own faith deepened. It's the funerals that have challenged me to live a life that selflessly serves others. It's in hearing the prayers for that birth mom, that have challenged me to live a life of forgiveness and grace. It's been in those dreadful moments of rejection, that I have been reminded of God's unconditional love and acceptance. It's in the lost battles of addiction that I have remembered God's timing is not my own and to pray with expectation, to pray without ceasing, because God is a God who breaks unbreakable chains. It's watching a family serve only two weeks after burying their new born, that reminded me that God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. It's in the uncertainty of a healthy future, that has shown me what trust in God should look like. It was in the eyes of that red headed veteran, that reminded me God's love overcomes all disabilities and differences. It's in those crumbled friendships and in those failed marriages that I have seen God make beautiful things out of brokenness and be the Healer of the hurt.
It is now Thanksgiving Day as I try to wrap up these thoughts ... everyone is sleeping, the dog is snoring at my feet and I sit here in the dark letting these words pour out from a soul that longs to thank Him. A soul that is grateful for the many extravagant blessings that have been lavishly poured into my life... but perhaps even more so for the faces, the stories, and their testimonies that have guided my soul to go deeper, to lean more into His faithfulness and to remember that even in the shadows of this life He is a good God and He is forever with us.
What a Mighty God we serve!!