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As we step into November, the idea of thankfulness is everywhere. After all, it's in November that we pause and reflect on the things we are thankful for. In recent years, the trend has become to countdown the days of the month posting the things we're thankful for to our social media. Before you know, we'll be sitting around the dinner table, sharing what we are most thankful for this year. But what do you do when it's been a tough year? What do you do when you've experienced loss, health challenges, financial difficulties, or life changing situations? How do you give thanks, when you're still in the midst of grief, struggle, or the unknown?
In 1 Thessalonians, we read these words, "16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. What does this mean? Is it possible? And why should we?
At the beginning of the year, after hearing the report that we were facing breast cancer, we determined, that no matter what, we were going to trust the Lord. That's a big statement, because at the time of diagnosis, we knew very little. There was no plan. We had questions. We had concerns. We had some fear. We weren't sure about what was going to happen next. In fact, we didn't even know what was next. But in the midst of all of if, we chose to trust.
What does it look like, "to trust?"
For us, we focused on what we knew to be true. God is God. And God is good.
Over the last 26 years of our marriage, we have watched as our good God, has proven himself over and over again and again. He has provided for us, protected us, paved ways for us, and positioned us to receive his blessing. God moved through people and situations, to show us that he was caring for us.
When we need to be reminded of God's faithfulness in our lives, we just have to look back at how he has shown up in the past. Because we have consistently God's hand on our life, we can rest in the knowledge that he is still working on our behalf. And, because God is good, we trust that he's working all things out for our good. That fact allows us to step into the unknown, trusting God.
We chose to trust God. And as we trusted, we were able to celebrate. With each step we took, we rejoiced. The good. And the bad. We rejoiced because we knew it wasn't about us. It was about what God was doing. He was drawing our family closer together, and we rejoiced. He was showing us our community of support, and we rejoiced. He was teaching us about love, and we rejoiced.
We rejoice because that's how you respond when God moves. We're choosing to rejoice in all circumstances.
The second part of these verses is verse 17, "pray continually." And that's what we did. We prayed, because there was nothing else we could do.
Time stands still when the word, Cancer, is said. We'll probably never forget that day. Our whole world changed. And all we knew to do, was to pray. But it wasn't just us. In the days, weeks, months that follow, an army was assembled and they were praying for us. Those prayers continue to this day. Our prayers, continue to this day. We haven't stopped praying.
But it hasn't been easy. There have been times when we wondered if our prayers were working. We knew what our faith said, God hears and God answers. But at times, our prayers and the answers didn't line up. It wasn't what we wanted or what we thought. It took some time, but we prayed. And we prayed. And we trusted. And that's the key. Trust.
We've learned that with our prayers, we have to trust. We have to trust that regardless of the outcome (answer to our prayer) God is good, and he is at work. And yes, there's that word, Trust.
Verse 18 says, "give thanks in all circumstances." In all circumstances, give thanks. When it's good, give thanks. No problem. When it's not good, give thanks. Okay, that's a little different.
Right after Amy's surgery, we learned that her father wasn't well. He had been admitted into the hospital and it wasn't good. On June 11th, he passed. About a week later, Jay's father was admitted into the hospital. The next week was up and down. But on July 4th, he passed. In less than a month, we lost both of our fathers. And if that wasn't enough, between the two deaths, we lost our family dog of 14 years, Toby.
Give thanks in all circumstances. What does that look like now?
When you begin a journey with the promise to trust God, no matter what, you kind of have to stick to the promise. They weren't just words. We didn't say them to make ourselves feel better. We meant what we said. We were going to trust God, and that includes giving thanks. Fortunately, we had much to be thankful for. HAVE much to be thankful for.
Amy's cancer was removed with her surgery. The follow up testing showed she was now cancer free. We were thankful.
An incredibly supportive community of friends and family surrounded us with prayer and cared for us. We were thankful.
Our father's both loved the Lord, their wives, and their children. Both lived and served God well. We are very thankful.
We had some good things happen this year as well. Our first born is successful. He's living on his own, has a great job, and is doing really well. We're thankful.
Our number two got married in February. He has a job he enjoys. He's working hard, providing for his family, and he and his wife are expecting a little girl early in 2023. We're thankful.
Number three is working full-time in job he loves. He's learning a ton of great skills that will benefit him for the rest of his life. He's fishing and practicing his photography, and hanging out with the family. We are thankful.
Number four is in high school and doing great. He's working, a leader among his peers, and is looking forward to what's to come. We're thankful.
Number five is in middle school and growing up faster than we want. She's a good friend who others look up to and admire. We're thankful
And Amy and Jay, well, 26 years and we're still going strong. God continues to show us his faithfulness. And, yes, we are thankful.
We have found that we have much to be thankful for. And while 2022, might have been a tough year, it pales in comparison to the good that God has shown us. We have so much to be thankful for.
- the higham family
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.