Jessica Albritton, Family Connections Minister, LHBC
1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
In my time in New Orleans I took the class entitled Death, Loss, and Grief. The purpose of the course was to analyze death, loss, and grief throughout the lifespan. We explored basic therapeutic interventions that can be used to assist grieving individuals experiencing a wide variety of loss such as illness, divorce, unemployment, relocation, infertility, death, and purpose. As a part of the course load students had to submit a research paper analyzing a personal grief experience. Though the paper was to outline a personal experience, the professor wanted to ensure we didn’t just write about that experience, we also had to integrate grief theory and readings along with our personal experience. The paper was to be at least 10 pages long with a minimum of 15 academic resources. Not only was this paper heavy emotionally, it was also academically draining. I spent countless hours that semester in the library combing through journals, articles, and text books.
I took the class in the fall semester and my paper was due right after Thanksgiving. This meant leading up to the holidays, and even over the Thanksgiving break, I was deep in the research and writing process. Because we all had to write about a personal grief experience, and many of us had never processed personal grief before that class assignment, the temperament of the class was less than cheerful. I can remember the professor telling us right before the holiday break to not let the overwhelming feeling of past (or even present) grief overshadow the joy that was to be felt. She told us, this world is full of grief and sadness because we live in a broken world, but it is also full of joy and goodness because a Savior came to restore it. She made sure to remind us we can be thankful for the grief, not thankful that we are broken, but thankful because the hurt pushes us to Jesus.
Reading through scripture believers are encouraged time and time again to be joyful, to rejoice, and to hold fast to hope. The ironic thing with many of these encouraging messages is the context in which they are written. Most are not written in good times, most are penned out of sorrow and desperation. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 encourages believers to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Often I don’t want to believe that. Really Lord? ALL circumstances? Are you sure about that? I mean, it’s easy to be thankful in the good times, but in the bad times I just want to sulk and whine and vent. Being thankful during hard times doesn’t sound exciting, in fact, it’s confusing to say thank you in the midst of heartache, pain or betrayal. But God.
In the process of writing my paper I came across a quote from Larry Crabb, a Psychotherapist and Christian counselor. In his book, Shattered Dreams, he states, “Tears have become my deepest form of worship… When dreams shatter, we long to experience God’s nearness in a way that dries our tears. Instead, deeper tears are released.” I think of that quote often, it’s something that sticks with you because you have to chew on it for a bit.
This season I am always reminded that we have a Father in Heaven that loves us fiercely and walks with us in the good times as well as the bad. He sees us and hears us and cares for us. Friend, are you hurting today? Are you finding it hard to be thankful on this Thanksgiving day? Fix your eyes on a Savior who loves you and is with you always. Your circumstances might not be something in which you want to give thanks but we serve a Savior who is worthy of all thanks!
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Heavenly Father, thank You! Thank You for who You are and what You have done! You are a good Father in good times and a good Father in bad. Help me to fix my eyes on You and You alone! In Jesus name, amen!
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”