Our family Thanksgivings used to be comprised of my entire extended family coming together for one large feast. Before we ate, we would go around the table, one by one, and tell something that we were thankful for. After all, that is what the time of the year is about, right?
My answer usually sounded something like this: “I’m thankful for my family and being able to live in a country where I can practice my faith freely.”
All very true.
But the older I have gotten, the more I’ve realized that the things that I am truly thankful for aren’t only the “happy” blessings in life like good friends, family and food. But also the opposite- the unhappy blessings. The things that honestly don’t feel like blessings at all in the moment.
Now, the list of things that come to my mind when I think of what I’m thankful for includes some very “depressing” times in life. Here are some things I’m thankful for:
I’m thankful for my freshman year of college when I sat the bench instead of starting on the softball team.
I’m thankful for the hard season of deciding to meet my biological father and the anxiety that was involved.
I’m thankful for the dark time of life after my grandmother passed away.
I’m thankful for the heartache that followed breaking up with my boyfriend.
Why would I be thankful for these things? These horrible, depressing times of life?
Because one thing: They brought me closer to Jesus.
Sitting the bench my freshman year of college replaced my selfishness on the field with humility- I learned that the reason I should play was for the Lord, not myself.
The hard season involved with meeting my biological father ultimately taught me that God is trustworthy even through confusing times. And it ended up giving me a whole new family to love and be loved by.
The dark time after my grandmother passed away taught me that God is my comforter, and He is all that I need.
Breaking up with my boyfriend taught me that a relationship with a man won’t fulfill me and my first focus has to be the Lord. After we both learned that lesson, God brought us back together and we are now married.
So this Thanksgiving, I can’t wait until it’s my turn to say what I’m thankful for. Because it won’t just be my usual answers - the blessings everyone is easily happy about. But the things most people dread. I’m thankful for the scary and the sad times this past year has held. Because even if I can’t see the full picture yet, I know that they are ultimately bringing me closer to the Lord.
What about you? Have you had times that were hard but, looking back, you see they brought you closer to the Lord? What struggle are you going through now?
We don’t have to be thankful for the misery, but we can be thankful that ultimately God uses the misery - for His glory, and our good.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” - 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Let us not forget to be thankful for hard times this year.
Jordan Sok is a 20-something writer, Christian and newlywed. Her personal blog encourages her readers to “embrace the awkward,” because the way she sees it, a lot of “awkwardness” is simply feeling uncomfortable because something is out of the norm. And maybe that is a good thing. Her blog focuses on a mixture of topics surrounding the 20-something Christian life- the good, the bad, and the funny. Oh, and the awkward.
Publication date: November 12, 2015