carried + loved collective

Thanksgiving + Cultivating Gratitude

Jessica ScheksComment

I could never imagine how the holidays were a hard time for people until last year. A mere 11 days before Thanksgiving I miscarried and suddenly I found myself dreading Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I didn't want to be around people, I didn't want to attend festive celebrations, I didn't feel like shopping for gifts, and I really didn't want to go around the table listing what I was thankful.

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My saving grace was Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth's podcast, Revive Our Hearts. The week leading up to Thanksgiving she was doing a series (divinely) called "The Blessing of Thorns." I truly couldn't have asked for a better series to prepare my mind. You can listen to that series here.

Deep down I knew that I had so much to be thankful for. But my mind was fixated on my child who had passed away within me. Death had entered into my body and taken my child not even two weeks earlier and I still had a lot of unanswered questions and countless raw emotions that were so overwhelming that they buried any thoughts of gratitude.

But Nancy taught me that a thorn can be a blessing, and even in the midst of a thorn patch you can find a rose. So I made a list of all of the roses in my life: God, my husband, friends, music, and the gift of motherhood. Addressing these blessings as roses among my thorns validated the deep pain I was feeling, but still allowed me to express thankfulness.

This year I am still feeling sad. I was really hoping I'd have a baby in my arms by the holiday season. But instead I'm a mother of two children, neither of which are in my arms. In church yesterday we were prompted to take inventory and really think about the things we are thankful for. Once again, I found myself feeling a little bitter. The two things I'm most thankful for are gone. I'm supposed to have a child in my arms this Thanksgiving and I don't. But I thought to myself that I better think of something and prepare my mind to share it this Thursday.

The only thing I could think of was God's Word. That is what I'm thankful for this year because it has provided me the most comfort. It's my only source of joy, and God has used it countless times to minister to my exact need.

Up until the last few months I believed that God's Word was alive, but I hadn't experienced it very much. And I suppose I didn't need to experience it like I do now. And maybe I always had, but I felt so alive in my flesh that it was hard to notice. Now I often find myself feeling dead inside, so the life that the Bible brings me as I read is such a stark contrast that it is impossible not to notice.

I absolutely love the Psalms, but lately I found myself going to the same chapters I've found comfort in over and over instead of seeking new comfort. So when a friend mentioned that she likes to read five Psalms a day I quickly jumped on board. Even though it's scheduled, the Lord has orchestrated it. Every time that I read He shows me something new, He quickens my mind to make connections to other passages, He drops thoughts into my mind that help to enlighten what I'm reading, and He just inspires me, encourages me, and ministers to me directly through His Word.

A few days ago I was reading Psalms 69 and found a prayer that I've gone back to everyday since.

But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.
— Psalm 69:13-18

I found it right at a time where I felt like I was sinking and in a pit of despair and it has touched me deeply. Last night I sent it to a friend who I know struggles with depression. After I sent it I was thinking about it more and realized that God had answered that prayer for me. For the past week as I read it each day I was praying directly out of scripture, and God heard my prayer speedily, and delivered me from that pit! That's not to say I feel wonderful now and all of my pain has subsided, but just as I prayed, He pulled me out of the mire and didn't let me sink.

So entering into this week of Thanksgiving, I am thanking God for His Word because without it, I'd be drowning in a sea of grief, trapped in a pit of despair and unable to see any light.