Philippians 4:4-7

With Thanksgiving

Things I'm thankful for.

Sitting quietly and alone, Christmas Eve (2020), I had much to grieve over; particularly the loss of my family and even some friends. With nowhere to run, and no place to hide, I was fully attuned to the impending reality that this Christmas would be uneventful, isolated, and quiet. I tried not to think about too much.

Taking control of your circumstances is a choice. You can either let it control you or let the behavior of others regulate your joy, or you can choose to do something different. And on this night, I chose to worship God in thanksgiving.

Dated 12/24/20, below is a list of things I wrote out in one sitting as they came to mind. It also served as an effective means of organizing my thoughts for a solemn and meaningful prayer that would ensue thereafter.

Things I'm Thankful For

  • God sending His son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and raising Him again from the dead for my salvation.
  • The opportunity and privilege of getting to work with some very special talents at work.
  • A house of my own to return to, take care of, and live in after being put through divorce and seeing everything else taken away.
  • The infirmities of this flesh that have provoked me to worry less about what people think of me, my faith, or the turmoil I'm going through.
  • A church that has demonstrated utmost care and compassion for what I've been through this year.
  • Being able to cook food without being constantly reprimanded for "doing it wrong" (I love to cook).
  • The solitude of living by myself, which while often riddled with moments of intense loneliness, weeping for companionship, provides for an abundance of quiet times and quiet places to build my relationship with God and be in fellowship with Him.
  • Not having unnecessary debts looming over my head while still being able to render all my financial obligations.
  • God being with me through the pangs of loneliness and abandonment, even sustaining me through missed meals when I would just cry myself to sleep; at times, even taking away the felt pain and anxiety altogether.
  • Though, I sometimes feel a bit out of place when I am amongst them (as someone who scarce has any tangible history with them), a friendly group of people at work who seem to enjoy my company and appreciate me as a person, despite of how busy we always are and how little time we get to "hang out" (usually never).
  • God's faithfulness in every impossible challenge I am faced with, many times revealing the solution on-the-spot as I cry out to Him for help.
  • Being able to take a hot shower after going months without.
  • Enjoying good homemade cooking at the hand of God and not having to go out to eat (obviously saves money on food and gas). Always amazed at how consistently delicious these creations turn out to be; and lovin' that garlic powder!
  • God's continual thoughts of kindness towards me, and not evil.
  • Having numerous opportunities to give to others during this holiday season. One gift in particular that took a group of us several months to organize for a co-worker became the most memorable when we received the following group text: "I am ugly crying right now, you have no idea how much you have touched my heart." It was awesome.
  • Having the opportunity to group televisit with another individual who had been recently diagnosed with cancer and also COVID-19. Never got around to visiting folks in the hospital back when I was in the Pastorate, but it seemed to mean a lot to this person.
  • Being able to acquire food and supplies safely during COVID-19, in spite of all the toilet paper mongering and excessive carelessness and disingenuous attitudes about the pandemic that seem very prevalent in this area.
  • Being able to still enjoy a variety of hobbies and games during slow times or seasons of depression.
  • The numerous individuals who took time to actually sit with me and listen to what I was going through and care. These validated who I was, prayed for me, not expecting or demanding anything from me. When trouble comes, you really do learn who truly is for you, and who's just been using you all along.
  • Like a fish out of water that seems to enjoy dry land, an unsettling peace with mine enemies, which while not something I've yet come to trust, evidences clearly the sovereignty of God working in my life. It's the most strangest thing to observe, but certainly not inexplicable (cf. Ps. 23:4-5).
  • The life God has given me, despite what I've been through; despite my faults and failures by the hour. He always knows how to pick up the broken pieces of my life and give me something to live for again, even when it seems all there's left of me is dust and ashes. No one else whom I've looked to for solace has been able to make this difference in my life and overcome my wars.
  • God always showing up just-in-time and giving me grace in the overtime: sometimes minutes; sometimes years.
  • God's goodness to me, even in the little and carnal things of this life. He always provides.
  • The ability and opportunity to play and sing praise to God.
  • The encouragement and comfort I've received through K-LOVE during the early stages of my former wife of 11+ years leaving me. And when I thought there was "no way but up" here at the bottom of this barrel, I looked down only to find a trapdoor that took me even lower. Words to many a song I'd never heard before penetrated the relentless questioning, fears, and darkness of those times.
  • God, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, which was, and is, and is still to come; to Him be glory and honour, power and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.