Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Strength and Peace

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a US national holiday set aside to give thanks to God in Heaven for the many blessings bestowed upon us. Recently, I've seen, heard, or read that many don't believe they have anything to be thankful for.

Last year, our local Marine recruiter was addressing my class when the discussion turned to living conditions in 3rd world countries. He and I were explaining to the students that people in this country often have no idea just how blessed they are. That's when one student in the class piped up, "Some of us here have it just as bad." Now, I've often said that all it would take to get Americans to appreciate life in these United States is a little time spent in poverty stricken 3rd world countries. But never had I heard anyone here claim to have it just as bad. I was struck, stunned really.

I'm a member of several online grief groups for grieving parents. You might imagine that many members struggle to find a reason to go on. Most of you, at least most parents, can empathize with those who've lost a child believing life has no meaning. I certainly can. No pain -- physical, emotional, or psychological -- that I've ever experienced hurt like losing Amanda. There were times when the pain dragged me to a dark place, feeling hopeless.

My point is, regardless whether we can agree, empathize, sympathize, or not, there are people hurting, people suffering at a time when most are celebrating. These are people blinded to their blessings by trauma, tragedies, and trials that leave them hopeless. Hopeless...
"The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." ~ Psalm 29:11

This verse was K-LOVE's "encouraging word of the day" sent to my inbox this morning. When I read it, I immediately felt the call to post. Then, as happens every holiday, I began to read the many posts of hopelessness and grief by parents who've lost children. I remembered that student who believed she had nothing to be thankful for. And I realized that many, many more from whom I'll never hear are marching toward this Thanksgiving feeling little to be thankful for.

If you've read here long, you know this will be our third Thanksgiving without Amanda. You'll also know that, though grief still resides in us, even takes over from time to time, we are not hopeless, no longer feeling the despair that will weigh down so many through this holiday season. And many of you already know why.

The verse above, Psalm 29:11, gives the secret to making it through any trial, any hardship, any tragedy. The Lord. As simple as it sounds, the Lord God Jehovah, Jesus Christ, is the source of peace and strength that you and everyone else needs to survive the troubles promised us in this life. (John 16:33)

Every time I comment on another grieving parent's post, I always pray the Lord gives them peace and strength in time. I firmly believe that without faith in Jesus Christ, and subsequently faith in His promise of eternal life, there is no hope on which to hold. On the contrary, with said faith any of us can weather any storm, survive whatever Satan may throw at us in his effort to separate us and others from Christ. That peace and strength, if you have nothing else on Earth to be thankful for, gives us reason to be grateful.

Nearly three years after my beautiful daughter was killed, three years that haven't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, and three years filled with many other trials and troubles, I can stand up and say I am thankful for my blessings. My grief at losing my daughter is not enough to keep me from seeing the blessings I still have. And, Jesus' promise that I will see Amanda again, and spend eternity with her in Heaven, is all I need to have the peace and strength to continue on until He calls me home.

So, if you're struggling to find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, turn to Jesus. He can, and He will, give you the peace and strength you need to keep going, and to be grateful.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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