In years past, on Thanksgiving, I enjoyed many wonderful meals with family while we shared all of the things for which we were thankful. I can recall numerous childhood Thanksgivings surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Some were spent in Florida where we enjoyed my aunt’s swimming pool. Others were spent in Georgia playing pool in my cousin’s basement, and others were spent at my childhood home. Thanksgiving has always been an enjoyable time to visit family, reflect on that for which we are thankful, and reminisce about silly stories from the previous year.
This year, I am having a really hard time being thankful and have little desire to reflect on the previous year. I know that God does not promise us that everything in life will be easy. He warns us that it will sometimes be very difficult to live a holy life. However, we are told in James 1:2 that we should face these trials and difficulties with “joy” because “the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” It is through joyfully moving forward through challenges that we become more persistent and stronger in faith.
I must admit that this has not always been the attitude I have maintained the last four months. Over and over I have asked for the strength to live the words of Job 1:21 “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” We are called to bless the name of the Lord and be thankful when times are great. As I reflect on my many previous Thanksgivings, I realize how incredibly easy that was when life was going smoothly. But we are also called to bless the name of the Lord when he “takes away.” That is not easy! There is a part of me this year that wants to scream “How could you take my beautiful innocent daughter away from me when she was only one day old? We did everything that we were supposed to do. We go to church every Sunday. We volunteer with our parish. We live good lives. Why would you do this to us? I am not feeling thankful!”
But that is just it – faith is not about feelings. Faith is about making the choice to be thankful for the one day that we were given with Isabelle and to bless the name of the Lord even though I don’t feel like it. I am so glad that I learned this valuable lesson a number of years ago – If we make the choice to turn to God in faith during small trials, it “produces perseverance,” and we are then able to bless the name of the Lord when faced with a horrible, life-changing event.
So, even though I don’t feel like it, this Thanksgiving I am choosing to bless the name of the Lord. I am choosing to thank God for the gift of my daughter and the brief time that He gave us with her. I am choosing to thank Him for the lives that were brought closer to God because of her. I am choosing faith because it is my faith that gives me hope that I will one day see Isabelle again.
*On a separate note, I am also thankful for my amazing sister who helped give my website a “facelift.” She is wonderful!