Thanksgiving begins my favorite time of year. A day filled with family and focused on gratitude comes just days before the season of Advent begins. The beauty and wonder and miracle of the season cannot be undone by commercialization. This is a season of grace. And there is grace in it all. The grace of Advent is slowly ushered in by the day dedicated to choosing gratitude. It is an extraordinary time of year. A holy time of year.
But even still, it can be hard. It can be very hard.
Many are facing some tough stuff. Some very tough stuff. Death, divorce, disease, heartbreak, financial strain, loss, job stress, anxiety, addiction, and all sorts of other hardships and pains are wrecking havoc around us. There are crazy and scary and horrifying things happening around the world.
Prayers seem unanswered. Hope seem lost. Strength seems gone.
So what do we do? How do you make it through the holidays when you feel you can't even make it through the day? How do you give thanks and be merry and bright when the pain and the loss are so real and constant?
The very Spirit of the season whispers beneath the layers of busyness and retailers and expectations and pain and social media and gently declares there is still hope.
Gratitude can still be found. Joy can still be uncovered. Celebration can still occur.
Because the grace of this time is that God is with us. We are not alone in our suffering or our pain or our sorrows.
The One who is the Word put on flesh and came to dwell with us. His dwelling is grace. And He continues to dwell with us as we read the Word. When the holy words wash over our weary hearts, joy and peace and hope begin to take over despair and disappointment and pain.
So maybe, by taking all the weight of the hard we are facing and laying it down at the feet of Jesus by praying through the Psalms we can begin to experience the miracle and the grace and the beauty of this season. Maybe the authenticity of Psalms can reignite hope and faith. These prayers are such a such reminder that we can be real before the Lord. He knows; He cares; He hears. And He works in our hearts even as we pray.
Psalm 30 reminds us that we can praise and give thanks because joy is coming. Great joy is coming. We can cry out to the Lord and know He will hear and He will answer. He is the God that turns mourning into dancing and the dismay into gladness
1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
Psalm 40:1-3 speaks truth straight to the jaded soul. The Lord hears and He rescues and He restores. He redeems the time we spent in the pit of destruction and turns our cries into songs of praise. And He uses our redemption stories to redeem others.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
Psalm 57 reveals even in the midst of anguish, praise and thanksgiving can still happen. Even when escaping death, there is a song to sing. When hardships surround, faith can stand secure on the promises of God.
1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
Psalm 71 affirms when strength is gone, God remains. When we are crying out for help and for deliverance, we can still praise continually, hope continually, trust continually in the God who is steadfastly faithful. We can praise and hope and trust because He is steadfastly faithful.
1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
Friends, if you are hurting, cling to the Word ever so tightly. Rest in the truths that you are never alone and you are understood and you are loved. Oh friend, you are loved dearly and personally. And just keep looking up to Jesus from whatever pit you are in. Keep looking up, especially during this season, because the Grace that came down displays His grace all around. And He is holding you and keeping you and surrounding you. He is a present helper and faithful refuge. Joy and peace and hope are found in Him.
May the beauty and wonder and mystery of this season begin to fill our hearts with a renewed hope, a steadfast faith, and abundant joy as we soak up the promises and truths of the Word.
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.