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From the pulpit: Giving thanks in difficult times

From the pulpit: Giving thanks in difficult times

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Giving thanks in difficult times

Thanksgiving is a particular time of year. It generally conveys meaning as people remember things they are thankful for and celebrate with friends and loved ones. Sometimes, though, we find ourselves in difficult situations, and it is hard to think about being grateful for anything.

One time, I went through a hard season as a pastor. Looking back, I know that God used it in my life to strengthen me. How are you today? Is it hard to be thankful because of a problematic season or significant problem?

Naomi was one such person who went through a challenging season. The Bible story is in Ruth 1-2. She lived in Bethlehem with her husband, Elimelech, and two sons. When a famine happened, Elimelech took his family to Moab for work and food. While there, he died. Naomi’s sons married wives in Moab, but in time, they also died. In about 10 years, Naomi lost her husband and two sons. She decided to head back to Bethlehem. Ruth, one of Naomi’s daughters-in-law, proposed to go along.

Upon arriving in Bethlehem, Naomi told her friends, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20 English Standard Version). Nevertheless, Ruth decided to go behind reapers during harvest season and pick up leftovers, which God’s Old Testament law allowed. Ruth gleaned in a field of a man named Boaz, and the day was very successful. Naomi and Ruth had a bountiful harvest and much reason to be thankful. When Ruth returned, Naomi exclaimed, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead” (Ruth 2:20). The word “kindness” emphasizes goodness and favor of God. Naomi went from bitterness to thankfulness for the kindness of God.

Jesus has good news for you. At the beginning of His earthly ministry, He read from the scroll of Isaiah, in the synagogue in Nazareth, these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19). Jesus offers salvation and wants to free people from difficult seasons. That is the good news Jesus came to give. That good news is available for us today.

Difficult seasons do not last forever, even though they may seem like they will never go away. I want to encourage you during this Thanksgiving season upon us that your hard time will someday be behind you and that the Lord wants to show His favor and kindness to you. He wants us to let Him do that for us. Jeremiah wrote, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3). Let the Lord into your life in this season and see what He will do for you.

Pastor Robert B. Litzenberger III

Brady Community Church

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