Pain, Sorrow, Joy + Gratitude

Thanksgiving 2016

Today is Thanksgiving.  I have been kind of dreading this day for weeks. Jonathan loved the togetherness of Thanksgiving and the prospect of  marking our first one without him has been a bit overwhelming. We miss him terribly.

Then a few days ago God spoke into my heart through a devotional I’ve been going through:
Jesus Always.  The author, Sarah Young, speaking in first person as Jesus Himself says this:“Thanksgiving is not just a holiday celebration once a year.  It’s an attitude of the heart that produces Joy; it is also a biblical command” and “No matter what is happening, you can be joyful in God your Savior.”  That was a fairly powerful message for me and one that I obviously needed to hear.  Since then, Jesus has been drawing me in close to whisper all the things we have to be grateful for.  It’s true, thanksgiving is a choice and a position of the heart.

Every year Calvary Church has a Thanksgiving Day service where we come together as a church family and have an opportunity to share all the ways we are grateful. Due to our plans in the past, I have been to this service just once in my 14+ years at Calvary.  I had no intention to go today. My plan was to stay close to home, expecting the day to be hard and full of tears.  I guess God had other ideas, because I felt Him prompting me to attend and share what He had put on my heart these last few days. Mind you, I would rather do just about anything else but speak in public. My voice, knees and hands shake and if I am sharing anything emotional there is a good chance I will cry. Who am I kidding? Crying is basically inevitable for me.  I tried to push the thought away and rationalized all the reasons why it would be fine to stay home and ignore that gentle voice in the back of my head.  It didn’t work.  So this morning, Josh and I attended the Thanksgiving Day service and were blessed to hear people share their hearts and ways they are grateful. I jotted down some notes over the last couple of days, so that I would not forget what God had put on my heart (I also knew I would have to read it, because it’s hard to think clearly when your heart is pounding out of your chest).  This morning I texted one of the pastor’s facilitating the “pass the mic” format so that I would not chicken out, because I felt my resolve wavering as I was drying my hair.  Here is what I read/shared:

“Our 23-year-old son died this past March after a motorcycle accident. While I can’t quite stand here and say that I am thankful for that, as I lean into the love of Jesus I recognize that there is still so much to be grateful for.

I am most thankful that because of his salvation and ours we have the promise that we will see Jonathan again one day.

My husband Noah, our younger son Josh and I are thankful for the love and support of this church family that has held (and continues to hold) our family up in our darkest time over the last 8 months.

I have heard that losing a child is something that you never get over – whether you knew them for 23 years, 50 years, 6 months or even just minutes. That certainly feels true today. The additional layers of loss like a wedding that won’t ever happen, grandchildren that will never be born and an empty seat at all of our future holiday celebrations wash over us in unexpected and suffocating waves. However, in this moment I can say that as we trust in God’s perfect will, it is well with my soul.

So today I am thankful to know that pain, sorrow, joy and gratitude can simultaneously exist in a heart that even while broken is surrendered to Christ.”

And now this evening as our Thanksgiving meal is over and the dishes are done, I can honestly say that it was a good day.  I clearly see how God has carried us through today.  God is good and gracious. He deserves all of our praise.  #blessed

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2 thoughts on “Pain, Sorrow, Joy + Gratitude

  1. Sharon Adair says:

    Susie, you touched me deeply by your honesty and willingness to allow yourself to “feel” and “be open” to whatever the Lord is going to show you thru your hurting heart while loving HIM!!. It never ceases to amaze me how God continually reaches down to pick us up when we don’t know how we are even going to “get up”. Then comforts us, breathes life, wisdom, and peace into the depths of our being.
    You so beautifully write about this even during your own healing. Your love for God and His love for you brings peace & truth pours out thru your words. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us!

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