Sometimes giving thanks is not easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard. For Susan, this week was one of those times. Over the last few years she’s transitioned from being merely my patient, to a good friend. To say that her life has not been easy would be an understatement.
As I arrived at her mud house for our scheduled appointment this week, something felt off about her. She shared the latest developments of life with me, and my heart ached. I found myself asking “Lord has this woman not been through enough already?” And yet through her latest hardship she could lift her eyes, smile and make the statement that God is good. She loves and trusts him. Even on the hard days. She has been an encouragement and an inspiration to me. And I was blessed by God’s timing. He allowed this latest challenge to walk into her life on the same morning that I was coming to see her. And because of that, I was able to not only pray with her, but to tangibly help her through this latest difficulty.
I have to confess that in this past week I myself have not felt abundantly thankful. My husband and I have faced a string of deaths in the last few months. The day before Thanksgiving we found ourselves sitting in yet another burial service, this one for a cousin who died at just age 32. Several of the people we minister to and work closely with are facing very difficult challenges during this season. This year I’m treating patients and working in the office on Thanksgiving day. I’ve faced some pretty tough personal struggles and losses myself in recent times. And yet when I sit down and really think about it, from the depths of my heart I have to confess that God truly is good. I’ve discovered that when we seek him, we find him. That in the cold and dark hours he is the lifter of heads and the one who sees and saves our tears. He knows our personal pains and he cares.
I’m learning more and more that thankfulness is not about being happy or having a perfect life. It’s about being able to recognize and identify the gifts that God has given and appreciate them. I’m learning that even when the heart is heavy, and circumstances are difficult, that it is possible to say mungu ni mwema from the heart and really mean it.
I don’t know where you are at on this American Thanksgiving day. But I do know that God is there with you. Today may be a day filled with fellowship, fun, and good food. Or your day may be lonely and perhaps even a bit desperate. Either way God is there with you. He longs to hold you in his arms and show you his heart of love and compassion. He wants you to see and know that he truly is good and there is always something that we can thank him for.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17