Thanksgiving is upon us. And when we stop to ponder what we are thankful for, all sorts of reasons come to mind: family, friends, our Country, our jobs, our church, our provisions, food, shelter, clothing, our military, God’s beautiful creation. And that’s just scratching the surface!
But I want to focus on something just as wonderful, but perhaps not so obvious. How about all those hard times in our lives? Those times when we experienced rejection, humiliation, abandonment, pain, suffering, betrayal, disappointment, How on earth, we may ask, could we possibly be thankful for these?
I recall a time in my life when I encountered a time of huge disappointment and betrayal. It proved to be a pivotal point in my life. I had made a major decision that apparently many of my community did not agree with. It sent ripples of negative gossip throughout. Even affecting my home-life. For weeks I endured the fallout.
Yet, after a time of several conversations, but more importantly time spent with God in His word and prayer, I arrived at the following conclusions. The turmoil I battled with was due to the fact that some key people of my community opposed my decision. Being the people pleaser that I was, their disapproval was hard to accept. But then a friend reminded me that when I seek to please God, there are always going to be those who would not agree with me. His advice was a game changer for me.
That whole ordeal taught me some much needed and powerful life lessons. God tenderly brought me to the understanding that I was to seek to please Him, not people. By choosing to please God, not man, in this trial, I learned that I could hear from God and act on His guidance whether others agreed with me or not. God grew my faith and I became wiser for having walked this difficult path.
Because of the light God shed onto my life in that instance, I found that my gratitude to God over rode any bitterness I may have felt towards those who had talked against me. It was a lesson I needed to learn, so it took a hard thing to teach it to me. The best reward was that I harbored no ill feelings toward those who had disagreed with me.
Years later, the ones that had instigated the event, came to me asking forgiveness. With assurance, I told them I had already forgiven them. I shared with them how God had put me in a classroom that taught me how to stand on my own two feet spiritually and receive a word from God. That pleasing Him was far more important and necessary than pleasing others.
Being a people pleaser entrapped me. But this ordeal set me free of that. I have thanked God time and again for opening my eyes to my weakness back then.
I have found that it is often those hard things we experience in life that teach us the greatest lessons. And for that we can always be thankful.