Maybe it is the rapid pace I have kept the past few months.
Maybe it is the culmination of various stresses and pains which seem to be swimming around me.
Maybe it’s just life and this is the way it is.
Whatever the case, for the past few weeks/months, I have been in what feels like a constant battle to maintain an attitude of “thankfulness” in my life. As I have stated in a previous post (CLICK HERE), personal “thankfulness” is an area in life I have been trying to grow in. Today, I have been wrestling with the Bible passage 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. . .
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Rejoice always?!?!?! Give thanks in all things?!?!?! Really?
Recently, my heart has been heavy for many reasons. In keeping with this desire of being thankful in all things, here are three areas which I am choosing to be thankful in and how the Lord has placed thankfulness in my heart in each one of them.
Loneliness – My life in Asia is replete with stretches and bursts of loneliness. Such was the case this morning. It was not anything big, just rather a sense of “man, I’m just tired of feeling lonely”.
I am thankful that in my loneliness of living overseas, God brings in folks to encourage me during my times of need. Today it was in the form of calls from my cousin Curtis (with a potential solution to my color-blindness . . . though it still sounds pretty suspect!) and my friend Ed Graham (just calling to check in on life).
Today, I am drawn to think more about what I do have in this area than what I do not have. I have wonderful friends here in Asia and around the world. I have an incredible family back in America. For this and so much more, even in my loneliness, I am drawn back to thankfulness.
Above all else, I am thankful that loneliness always seems to draw me closer to my Savior and friend, Christ Jesus (click here for more on my processing loneliness).
Broken friendships/relationships – Recently I have been more acutely aware of past relationships which were either abruptly ended or ones that time and distance have just simply eroded with the passing of time. This has been heavy upon my heart.
However, today I am thankful for all these relationships. Even the “bad ones” built me up in specific ways unique to each one. For this, I am honestly thankful. Also, I am thankful that even broken friendships point me towards the ultimate friendship/relationship which will never fail nor sever that of Christ Jesus.
Suffering friends and loved ones – My heart continues to be heavy for my friend, Tracey Clarke, and her husband Craig. Tracey is my friend who has been heroically fighting stage 4 brain cancer for over two years. It’s been a particularly rough last few weeks.
How can I possibly be “thankful” for this? (If you don’t know, please read Let me tell you about my friend, Tracey. . . and her current journey . Please pray for them as you read this.).
I am thankful for Tracey herself and for the fight she continues to wage against this disease. I’m thankful for the incredible example of godliness which Craig has exuded throughout. Both have taught me more about courage, steadfastness, commitment, and faith in this 27 month process than I could have ever imagined possible. Craig calls me often to just process life, but also to talk about vital topics such as Georgia Tech football (as depressing as it is) and funny youtube clips.
I am thankful that even in the suffering of beloved friends like Tracey and Craig there is hope. The suffering of this present age only pushes us towards the joys of the reality of the next one and the beautiful Savior from whom we have life, breath, and being.
For this, I am most thankful on this grey day in the middle of nowhere Asia.
(Related posts; 4 observations on “thankfulness” and 5 things I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day)