In this season of thankfulness, with crisp winds bringing to our noses the smell of pumpkin spice lattes and oven baked turkeys, it’s hard to imagine feeling any hint of bitterness. In fact, as we scroll through our Facebook threads, we probably have these thoughts:
“I’m so glad that family was able to take time and photograph the perfect family portraits. I can’t wait to see their pictures in my newsfeed for the next three weeks!”
“Oh, look at her new engagement ring! She’s so lucky! And to think she’s engaged and only two years younger than me! #blessed!”
“Wow! They are expecting another baby! I can’t wait for my little one to come along.”
“Looks like he got a job promotion! I’m so happy he is able to purchase his first house right out of college!”
Ok. Ok. Maybe these aren’t my exact thoughts. But, why shouldn’t they be?
Elisabeth Elliot once wrote, “If I imagine that I love my neighbor, let me test my love by asking how glad I am that he has managed to acquire what I have long wished to acquire. That he is loved by someone in some way that has never been granted to me.”
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what we have.
But we should also challenge ourselves to be thankful for what other people have.
The test of the authenticity of our own thankfulness can be made when we expand our thanksgiving to include the things we haven’t been given, but someone else has. Furthermore, it’s hard to be an authentic, thankful witness to the lost when bitterness about those seemingly unanswered prayers is competing with the delight of our salvation. This holiday season, we must surrender our bitterness concerning unanswered prayers in our own life in exchange for the blessing of knowing that He is active in the lives of others around us!
After all, we are many members of one body. Their family is our family. Their marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, and we are accountable to them. Their job promotion is our promotion, and a promotion of Christ in the workplace.
We should rejoice with those who rejoice, which can sometimes be easier to say than do.
In scripture, we see a very surreal account of bitterness, anguish and unanswered prayer in the story of Mary and Martha pleading for Jesus to heal their brother, Lazarus. Jesus did not automatically responded to Martha and Mary when they sent for Him. In fact, He waited four days before coming to see them. To this end, Henry Blackaby writes in Experiencing God:
“If I had come when you asked Me to, I would have healed him. But, you would have never known any more about Me than you already know. I knew that you were ready for greater revelation of Me than you have ever known in your life. My refusal and My silence were not rejection. It was an opportunity for Me to disclose to you more than you have ever known. We must never forget that God’s silences are not his rejection. They are preparations for a greater revelation of Him.”
In the midst of silence this holiday season, give Him thanks. Choose to delight in the blessings He has already given you and that He is giving others. Remember, your empty womb, loss of a spouse or family member, lack of a marriage partner, or financial strain is not a rejection of God. “They are preparations for a greater revelation of Him.”
Ask God to reveal to you any bitterness you could be harboring in your heart.
Then, ask Him to do what only the Holy Spirit can do: turn that bitterness into thankfulness. This transition does not make sense to those who are perishing. But it should be the anthem of those who have hope; who see the blessings of God and rejoice.
Cayce Jeanes currently resides in “The Big Easy” where she is pursuing her master’s degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. When she isn’t studying, you can find her hanging out at local eateries, refining her Instagram techniques and practicing her lip syncing skills. (Hey, you never know when Jimmy Fallon will need you for a battle duet.) Above all else, Cayce has been given a passion to listen, learn from and walk alongside those who are hurting; to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. She looks forward to becoming part of the Authentic Womanhood community and can’t wait to see how the Lord will use this platform for His Bride. You can follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.