How Can I Live a Life of Thanksgiving When I’m Hurting Deeply?

Lately I’ve been watching fall football with my husband and no doubt around this time every year, commercials with luxurious cars driving through snowy mountains stir something inside me.

A little girl with bright big eyes peers out her window and sees all the twinkling lights. Santa is coming. Snow is falling. And she and her perfect family are savoring the season driving in the car of their dreams. I begin to feel like that little girl too.

A new Lexus sounds pretty good at the end of the year wrapped in a giant red bow. I may even feel like I “need” a new 2019 Range Rover fully loaded with leather seats and a sunroof that extends to the backseats.

Marketing geniuses know how to tap into our longings for “more.” They’ve done their homework. They give us all the “feels” and stir our senses for what’s beautiful, nostalgic, functional, and trendy making us think we’ll be happier.

We know the truth though. No material possession can fully satisfy our longings. In 2030, the 2019 cars will be old. There will always be newer, better, and more technologically advanced toys by then.

A Life of Thanks

As I think about gratitude this Thanksgiving (instead of Christmas and pretty cars!), I’m trying not to look so hard at what I don’t have and instead think deeply on all I’ve been given. Because this is the heart of God. This is what he desires for my life- to be content with what he’s already given me.

To live in such a way that my life spills over with Thanksgiving every day there’s breath in my lungs – not just on Thursday when we gather around the table with our loved ones.

But the truth is, it’s hard to give thanks when life hurts. In suffering, I can give thanks to you God? In loneliness I can thank you? In an unexpected diagnosis I can praise you? In conflict? Hurt and pain? When someone wounds me with their words? Even in confusion and times of chaos? Even when I believe something has been taken from me?

Take a look at what Jesus did in the Upper Room with his disciples:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 22:26-28).

Accepting God’s Will

Jesus Messiah. God of the Universe- not far from being betrayed and murdered on the cross, gave thanks to his father in heaven. He knew the cup of God’s wrath would be poured out upon him and it would be a bitter one.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would even fall with his face to the ground praying and asking God to take the cup from him (Luke 22:39). He knew the agony, excruciating pain, and torture he’d experience dying a criminal’s shameful and violent death, yet he humbly accepted God’s will as his son.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

He knew the weight of the world’s sins would crush him, yet he chose to praise God. He knew the story wasn’t over- a greater purpose and plan was unfolding.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

And he didn’t just give thanks with his lips, he displayed it by giving up his life.

His body was broken for you… in thanksgiving.

His blood was shed for you… in thanksgiving.

And he did so willingly to save you. He took on the punishment that we deserved.

There’s no greater love than this.

He is our ultimate example of one who chose to thank God and accept his will in the midst of deep anguish and suffering. He knew the joy that was set before him- our precious gift of salvation that we could never earn on our own.

He knew it would get better and three days later he would rise, and the gravestone would be rolled away- conquering death once and for all. And because of his accomplished work on the cross, we can choose gratitude too.

Your Story Isn’t Over

No matter what you’re facing this Thanksgiving, you have great hope that these temporary trials and afflictions won’t last forever. And until you meet Jesus face to face and enter the gates of heaven, you can continually ask for his strength in your deepest pains and hurts.

Until that glorious day where he’ll make all things new with no more tears, death, suffering, or sin – you can thank him here and now and trust his love for you personally- proven to you on that costly, rugged, redeeming cross.

His death has brought you life. And what you see here and now isn’t the end of your story, either.

Blessings,

Samantha

Recommended resources: One Thousand Gifts book and devotional by author and farmer’s wife Ann Voskamp – www.onethousandgifts.com

 ** This article first appeared on TheCourage.com 

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. She writes regularly for Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage.com, Her View From Home, and For the Family. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

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Amena Brown: Resurrection

This week, I’ll be taking a break from writing on my blog to post a few video clips that our Bluefish producers have created. I’m excited to spend this week taking a step back to reflect on all that our Savior has done for us and will continue to do.

I hope the videos posted this week will strengthen your faith and encourage you in whatever you’re facing today.

The voice behind this 2-minute video is spoken-word artist, Amena Brown.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl40wVuCJUA]

Man on the Street: Who is Jesus?

crossFor Bluefish, we recently did some man on the street interviews here in Dallas. The interviews will go into our upcoming youth series about the tough questions we have about Jesus with David Nasser. I’m working on host copy (the words that our host will say to introduce segments in the series). Mac Powell with Third Day is going to be our host (I’m a big fan). Mac and David are good friends and have done a lot with the Glory Revealed album together.

Here are some of the comments we got off the street:

Our question: Who is Jesus?

I don’t really have an opinion of Jesus I believe that religion was created to control the masses.

He was a dude lived back in the day pretty awesome he had a beard.

Jesus is a person that existed that continues to enrich the lives of people everyday.

I think that he is a pretty cool guy he had a peaceful philosophy I think he’s misinterpreted by a lot of people.

He is the Savior of this world.

I don’t know because I don’t really believe in him so I don’t really think anything of him.

I mean he could have been a real person I mean I am sure he was I mean I am sure he was just good at what he did or something.

I kind of feel that Jesus is a modern day scapegoat.

Jesus is God I think, yeah, I just learned that.

Jesus was a man from what I figure.

He was just kind of a guy with a really unique positive message that kind of gave a lot of people a lot of hope.

He probably existed but I don’t believe he was the Son of God or anything.

Who is Jesus? is the one question that we all must come to terms with. Our destiny depends on who this figure in history was. What sets Christianity apart from any other religion is the Resurrection. If all Jesus did was live on this earth, claim to be God, die on a cross, but never rose from the dead (to prove He was God), our faith would be pointless.

The resurrection proved that He was God. Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote about it. Archeology proves it. Over 500 eye witnesses after his resurrection proves it. Disciples who turned from cowards to courageous leaders for the gospel proves it. Prophecy upon prophecy fulfilled proves it. The list goes on.

We just simply cannot get away from dealing with Jesus and what he means for our lives. He was either a Liar, a Lunatic, or was Lord as C.S. Lewis coins it and it’s a choice we have to make. Is Jesus fully God and did he die on the cross for me to save me from my sins? Do I believe that God loves me unconditionally, right where I’m at?

Who do you say that He is?

The Weight of the Cross

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFvMzDlsmig]Last week, a gunman in the small town of Binghamton, New York took the lives of 13 people, including his own. The ugly darkness of evil and sin were yet again exposed to our world. And in the midst of such tragedy (around Easter), I’m compelled to look inwardly at the evil and sin in my own heart.

I often relate Easter-time to the blue-colored peeps and big chocolate bunnies hidden in grass that I found in my basket on Sunday mornings growing up. But I’m learning that Easter is everything but that. Easter is about dealing and grappling with the sin in my heart in light of the cross.

Motivated by love, Christ took on his shoulders the weight of my sin. Ever since the fall, I’ve had a major sin problem—or you could say a “thought” problem. So God, in human flesh, descended from the heavens to enter my messy world and eventually die a criminal’s death on a cross to rescue me from that sin and bondage.

Mark 7:21 says, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery.” There it is. That sin problem disclosed again. I guess I was wrong and I’m not as perfect after all.

Christ came to heal every person’s brokenness and to restore his image within them. His wounds have healed us. Because of his resurrection, Jesus proved he wasn’t a liar or a lunatic. But that he was God. Because of his life, we now have life. And that is something worth celebrating this Easter.

Video Credit: Chad Madden: Bluefish TV

Video: You’re Beautiful

No matter how eloquently I try to describe the beauty of the Lord through words, they would never do justice. One thing I know for sure is that as the years pass by, the more I realize just how badly in need I am for a Savior. As I’ve drawn closer to him in these 20 years of being a Christ-follower (since I was 6!), the peculiar thing is that the more I see my sin and ugliness.

But because of his beauty, perfection, and holiness I continue to see who I really am– absolutely nothing apart from him. I’m a sinner saved by grace, nothing added. Nothing taken away. But yet I am everything because of him alone and what he does through me.

It’s truly the place we all must come to grips with- that a life lived a part from Christ is really no life at all.

The video below was produced by a very gifted guy at our church and captures just a glimpse of the perfection and beauty of God. The song put to the video is “You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DEL0R32eU8]

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