Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for a Broken Heart

On October 13, 1863, Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. It was the autumn after the Civil War had ended and he was imploring all Americans to give thanks: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

Lincoln went on to say that “in the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity,” Americans were fortunate to enjoy many blessings. Though we paid dearly in the battle between the North and South, we were able to enjoy a bountiful harvest. The war forced our country to grow and, in the end, prosper. We had become a stronger country whose continuing freedom and strength of nation were secured in the conflict.

Like most people, I took some time this week in honor of Thanksgiving Day to thank God for the countless blessings in my life. Many of these things I am sure appear on your own list – friends, family, shelter, food, job, and health. Others may seem strangely out of place and those are the ones I share with you today.

I am eternally thankful that God loved me enough to allow me to hit rock bottom in my life. It must have hurt him so to allow the onslaught of unbearable circumstances into my life that eventually broke my willful spirit and shattered my cold, hard heart. I’m thankful that God stood in silent anguish as he allowed the multiple abuses into my life as a child and as a young wife and mother. I’m thankful that he gave me the precious gift of my son even though he knew the pain I would endure when my Bryan, my reason for living, was taken from me in an unfortunate car accident when he was twelve years old. Allowing these things into my life to break my rebellious heart and lead me into his waiting arms was his gift to me.

I am also grateful for the challenges we have faced together since I’ve given my life and my heart to Jesus. No one looks forward to hardship and pain, but adversity is the way we learn and grow. I’m thankful that he allowed me to endure the pain of a second divorce so that I could learn to lean on his strength and rely on his perfect will in my everyday life. I’m thankful for the pain-filled years of therapy that helped me to discover this Godly woman that the Lord is, even now, still cultivating in me. I’m thankful that when I look back at all the abuse, and loss, and the painful moments when I felt alone and abandoned, I can see that he was right there beside me crying with me, holding my broken heart together in his hands.

Lincoln realized that God had brought good out of the devastations of war and was hopeful that we would not neglect offering our humble thanksgiving to our Father in Heaven for the blessings that arose out of that painful experience. Likewise, the challenges I’ve faced in my life have given me the opportunity to look to and lean on God’s grace and power. They’ve forced me to learn and grow in his Spirit and I am stronger for it.

What hardships has God blessed your life with?

About the pictures:
Parkwood Presbyterian Church, Allison Park, PA (July 09)

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