Searching for Thankfulness

It’s easy to find things to be thankful for…

  • Education
  • The sound of the ocean
  • Love
  • Technology
  • Family

Things like this are good, but what can we be thankful for when it feels like the ground is crumbling beneath us?

How to find thanks within during life's difficult times

Not-So-Easy Seasons of Life

Recently, my husband moved to Ohio and asked me for an “extended separation”.  The request caught me completely by surprise. Since then he has asked me to remove his name from most of the accounts we’ve shared in our 13 years of marriage. I’m still in the process of putting utilities in my name as well as dealing with the emotional and psychological toll.

At the end of August, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Treatment includes overnight stays in the hospital while she receives chemotherapy. After the first round of chemotherapy, she caught an infection and had to be hospitalized for a few weeks.

This is not the easiest season of my life.

 If you’d asked me three weeks ago what I was thankful for, I would’ve laughed at the thought of being thankful for anything.

What’s the point of being thankful for my health, the air I breathe or family when the really hard seasons of life are smacking you around? Most of the things I would usually say I was thankful for lost some of their shine.

Regaining a Thankful Heart

As I start to move forward and clean up the messy turn life has taken, all I could do at first was repeat to myself “God is always good”; a concept I wasn’t even totally sure I could trust.

 Moving forward one tiny step at a time, I slowly started to read my Bible and a few other Christian books. One of my favorite books is Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter.

In one section of Prayer Portions, Sylvia Gunter talks about the 8 Covenant names of God from the Old Testament each of which can be found in Psalm 23.

  • Jehovah-Rohi – Our Good Shepherd
  • Jehovah-Jireh – Our Provider
  • Jehovah-Shalom – Our Peace
  • Jehovah-Rophe- Our Healer
  • Jehovah-Tsidkenu – Our Righteousness
  • Jehovah-Shammah – God who is there (This one’s my favorite)
  • Jehovah-Nissi – Our Banner of Victory
  • Jehovah-M’Kaddesh – Our Sanctification

With the upheaval in my life, the normal “rules” for thankfulness didn’t seem to apply. Instead, I turned to these names for God to regain my thankfulness.

I made a list. I do that when things seem overwhelming. It helps me organize my thoughts a little better.

I made a list of the major things that are happening in my life and then matched them up with the covenant name of God that made the most sense to me. As I made my list, I couldn’t help being thankful each time I matched a name of God with an issue or pain.

It was the most real thankfulness I’ve experienced in a long time.

When You Can’t Be Thankful for the Normal Things…

Be thankful for something better.

I’m thankful that the Lord is my Good Shepherd who never takes His eyes of His sheep. While changing our apartment lease and putting it in my name. While searching for a second job, and another car. I am thankful that the Lord is my provider. When anxiety and fear hit me, and I pray for peace, I’m thankful when the Lord replaces my fear with His peace.

Through it all, I’m thankful that God is there. Everywhere I go. Every circumstance I find myself facing – He is Jehovah-Shammah; God who is there.

There’s nowhere we can go where He is not.

This holiday season I encourage you, whether your circumstances are easy or hard, forego the normal things you’re thankful for. Instead think long and hard about the things you really are thankful for and why.

And may our God heap more blessings on you this holiday season than you could ever imagine.

Jennifer Arman

Jenn Arman is a 36 year old, Southern California native. She and her husband David have been married 13 years and serve as pastors in their local church. Jennifer is a self-proclaimed geek who believes God is an idealist and her desire to see people trade in convenient faith for an ever deepening faith.

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