Thankfulness in the Struggle - Salvation Army Canada
  • Mar16Tue

    Thankfulness in the Struggle

    March 16, 2021 by Rebekah Mcneilly
    Filed Under:
    Women's Ministries

    I was going through old blog posts of mine when I found one from 2016. This, in some ways, feels like a lifetime ago. Despite the fact that 2021 has been wildly different than 2016 (or, any other year… ever) this post still rings true.

    “I’ve recently started volunteering at a youth shelter that does meals and other cool things to help out struggling young people in Hamilton. Let me tell you something: I am amazed day after day by these people. We start breakfast prep at 7am and then eat and hangout from 8-9:30am. At 9, there’s a brief prayer session for anyone and everyone who wants to participate. We sit together in a tiny room off the dining hall area, and go around with thoughts and prayer requests, and then everyone has the opportunity to pray. The other day, we went around the circle (there were 6 or 7 of us) and shared prayer requests. On this morning, it was all volunteers and one young woman — who we’ll call Sarah — who had come in for breakfast. She must have been freezing in that -20 degree weather, as she sported no more than a leather jacket over a t-shirt and leggings. I suspect she had been living outside for a few days and she kept her head down most of the time as the rest of us prayed. It was much of the same, prayer for patience, prayer for siblings or other family members, energy, jobs, etc. When it came to her turn, she looked up and smiled an unexpected but toothy smile. “Ya know, everybody is talking about all these emotions and everyone is sad, and ya know it’s just okay to feel emotions, it’s okay to feel everything. I’m just so thankful to be alive, I’m just so thankful to be here ya know, and I’m just so thankful for all of yous.”

    Excuse me for one second while I decide whether to laugh or cry. Did I mention I was feeling particularly grouchy and uninspired as I woke up at 6:30 am and bundled up in my expensive winter coat? Did I mention I almost called in because who would ever leave their bed at that hour in the morning? Did I mention I did everything but thank God for what I have? It took one young woman, who without a doubt has less than I do, one beautiful individual to knock me down about 11 pegs and remind me that I’m so blessed to be alive. I am blessed to have what I have. I am blessed to be in the presence of other people. I am blessed to be loved. I. Am. Blessed. More than anything, I am blessed because I know Jesus. She did what I should be doing, she said it out loud. I should be shouting it, proclaiming it, sharing it, writing it, singing it. I’m thankful today because I know Jesus.

    Sarah articulated it perfectly. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to feel what you are feeling. Yet we can still find the space to be thankful. Thankfulness that God rescued us from the darkest pits of despair. Thankful that He always will save the day, in His own super-awesome-I made the world-don’t stress signature God kind of way.

    How different would every morning be if we looked at it through the lens of “This day is a beautiful blessing from the Lover of my Soul, and I am oh so thankful he will walk with me through the ups and the downs of it.” My friend Hilary writes down 3 things she’s thankful for, every day. I want to do that.

    There’s a song by Amanda Cook called “Heroes”. The second line of the chorus says this: “You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment and I, I will worship you.” I want God to teach me to dance upon every emotion and always say thank you, thank you for sending women like Sarah to remind me that I am blessed.”

    I don’t think honesty about how we are feeling and thankfulness need to be mutually exclusive. I can acknowledge that this year has been so hard, and I don’t necessarily see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet. I can acknowledge that sometimes I still feel like I'm in that 'pit of despair'. Thankfulness is not the denial of pain. Thankfulness is looking beyond the pain, to what I still have. I still have Jesus. There is no end to the depth of hope and love I can experience in relationship with Him. I truly believe that. 

    Leave a Comment