Thanksgiving

Our pastor delivered a beautiful Thanksgiving message this past Sunday that has stayed with me all week. There were a couple specific parts that went to my heart; I’ll share one.

Though I understand I cannot earn God’s favor, I still try to. I don’t realize I’m doing it, but more often than not, there is a sense of duty that overrides a precious relationship with Him. Our pastor reminded us that we should come to Him out of love for Him and not from a place of duty.

All week I have remembered gratitude and worship for my God, not out of responsibility, but from my heart. God has so tenderly met with me this week.

If I had to say what I am most thankful for this year (and always), it would undoubtedly be the unfailing love and mercy He has for us.

Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD, 
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God, 
For He will abundantly pardon.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
Nor are your ways My ways,"
says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher 
than the earth,
So are My ways higher than
your ways,
And My thoughts than your
thoughts..."
Isaiah 55:6-9

In The Silence

There are so many gut-wrenching questions to which I do not know the answers.

How do I help someone who is battling darkness?

What is the catalyst for a heart or perspective or belief to change?

How do people come to terms with past failures or ever make up for the consequences left in their wake?

Why don’t prayers for hearts to be healed and lives to be restored yield visible results, often times, after years of prayer?

Should we pray for specific requests if God has a different ending in mind than we do?

Who gets to have things work out as they had hoped, and who has to endure way more than what seems to be their share of suffering?

Where was God when…?

Why does God allow…?

Why won’t God…?

etc.

Sometimes all we hear is silence.

I know there are some automatic answers some of us might begin to attach to those questions, answers that might be accurate in a concise set of circumstances. Answers that have seemed to be or have been true and accurate in the past. But I wonder if it is profitable to attempt to answer all the questions.

Some who have lived through enough pain and uncertainty, darkness and difficulty, could speak to those questions and others would listen. I would guess, though, that even many of the wisest souls would admit that they’re careful not to apply a trite reply as a balm to a battered heart.

Some shake their fists at God in their pain. Some rebel and accuse Him of being a liar, but Satan is the father of lies. He preys on pain, swift with the implication: Could God really be a loving God with so much evil allowed in the world?

Only God can meet one at the point of their unbelief or their crisis of faith. Our prayers for God to be the answer to unanswerable questions, by illuminating His love and touching hearts, are the best way forward through uncertainty. God sees the wounds of every soul, and He alone knows how to reach them.

God is TRUTH and LIGHT and LOVE. He is HOLY and RIGHTEOUS and JUST. Those are answers I know even when I can’t understand, even when He is silent. His heart is for us, not against us.

May we remember that this life is a vapor compared to eternity. God sees all of time and knows all the answers that we cannot fathom.

Faith matters to God. He is the one who gives it to us.

Will we keep coming to Him without receiving the answers we seek? If we do, that is faith.

Will we come to realize that we will never cease to be desperate for Him? That is faith.

Will we realize that He alone is our hope? That is faith.

Pain can cause bitterness, or pain can push us closer to God.

I have struggled with my faith, wondering why I can’t hear God or feel His presence. In the silence, I realize the truth that He is God. He is the Creator, and I am His creation. I have a choice before me: trust Him in faith or trust in my own understanding. My faith feels wobbly to me, just about always. But I run to Him again and again because I have nothing without Him. I believe that He is the true God who is Master and Creator, and I will stumble my way back to him each time I question or fall.

When it’s silent and we can’t understand where God is, He is still at work to draw our hearts to His if we let Him.

Jesus laid down His life for mankind out of God’s unfathomable love for us. He suffered and died and did nothing to deserve it, but He saw the whole picture with eternity in mind. His pain would bring us redemption and eternal life. He wouldn’t stay in the grave forever, and neither will those who put their trust and hope and faith in Him. There’s a time that’s coming with no more pain. He made a way for us.

May God love through us those who are lost and hurting. Oh, may we listen to their pain and take it before God, asking Him to rescue and heal, revealing His love and salvation that can restore the most broken and hardened hearts.

May our hearts break for the souls that are blind to the truth of who God is, accusing Him of everything He is not. Those who rail at Him and refuse Him have a spiritual battle raging for their souls. We pray for their eyes to be opened, for the faith to believe, for our own faith to be strengthened so we can stand as His people in these dark times. God alone can save, the great DELIVERER.

God is LIGHT and in Him there is no darkness.

Oh, God, be our Light in the darkness. There is hope in You. You are always the answer.