Everything feels different this Thanksgiving.
When I sat down to write, I had every intention of writing a post about thankfulness. But my city has seen a lot of tragedy lately, and I’m struggling, knowing other people are struggling to see hope.
My heart keeps mumbling over the same words that Mary said when she tried to reconcile Jesus not coming to save her brother Lazarus, like she thought He would.
Why were You not here?
A friend of mine was killed in a car accident several years ago, and that was the only thing burned onto the front of my mind as I processed it all.
Why didn’t He do something? Why didn’t He stop it? Why did He allow this to happen?
Sometimes the only thing I can think to say is I don’t know. I don’t know why people leave, or why things fall apart. I don’t know why it seems like life will always hurt. I don’t know why He takes away, and seems to take the things that are most precious in this life. I don’t know why God moves us in a completely different direction when we’d rather everything stay the same. I don’t know why there never seems to be enough – when all that is in front of you screams to give more but there just isn’t anything left.
I don’t know why empty arms could ever be okay to give, instead of giving abundantly.
I don’t know.
But in this season of not knowing, of wrestling and struggling, I’m constantly pulled back to conviction. When I don’t know, I know exactly what I’ve been called to do.
Psalms reminds us that in every drop of hope, there is a flood of grief and uncertainty before it. The pain draws hope to our attention, as the weight of brokenness causes us to fall to our knees. It shows us that when giving thanks feels too hard, we can press through and give thanks anyway, praising God for what He has done and what He will do.
But we don’t have to get there right now. We don’t have to force ourselves into a place we’re not ready to be. We’ll get to that place. We just don’t have to fight our way there yet.
This hurt is not wrong. There is no shame in heartache. There’s only grace – an immeasurable amount of grace.
When Jesus saw the sight of death and sorrow, He wept. He would restore. But first, He grieved.
We don’t have to be okay today.
If I’ve learned anything in tragedy, it’s that God does not hand us ready-made, prepackaged answers to nullify our heartache.
He sits beside us in the silence of our grief, just being there. Not forcing any words. Not trying to drag us away from nursing the wounds. He weeps over them with us. He washes them. He holds them in His hands. And He is the strength we cannot even begin to try to have, whispering promises of newness and restoration.
This will end. It is not the way it’s supposed to be. This brokenness will be made whole.
He will do all these things. He will be faithful to finish what He has started. He will guide us one step at a time. He won’t just carry the burden of this sorrow, He will carry you.
When Thanksgiving comes in a few short days, many people may barely be able to formulate the words. But that’s okay. He is working on your behalf. There is an army placing you at His feet. And we will be praying this over you –
Lord, help us to see Your goodness, even when all we see is pain. Help us to see Your abundance, even when all we can see is emptiness. Help us to see Your blessings, even when it all seems like tragedy. Help us to find thankfulness, even when giving thanks hurts.
We can fight for joy tomorrow. Let’s grieve together today. He is here, with strength and tenderness, and He will not leave.