I must confess… I haven’t always been unconditionally thankful. You know, the kind of thankful that Paul mentions several times where I’m supposed to “in everything give thanks.”  And to complete this extra serving of honesty, I must say that even now I’m not always unconditionally thankful. That’s kind of why I don’t do the “Today I’m Thankful For” Facebook thing.

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Here’s an example of what I mean by this. If you know me personally or have followed my blog for awhile, you know that I have Hashimoto’s disease- a very frustrating and often life consuming auto-immune disorder. I have tried to be thankful in this thing. But my prayer goes something like this:  “Lord, I want to thank you for this disease because I know you are using it to make me more like Jesus and to glorify yourself. But if you could just find another way to do that, that’d be great.”

Now, to completely close the “honest confession death loop,” I can admit that the reason I leave in the “But” is because I’m afraid if I don’t include some disclaimer, the Lord will forget the devastation this disease causes in my life and He will forgot that I would rather He just go ahead and heal me.

In any trial, no matter what it is, I sometimes fear that to offer unconditional thanks for that thing would somehow minimize the anguish that thing is causing in my life. If I thank God unconditionally for my singleness, is He going to take that to mean I’m good with it now and will stop asking Him for a partner?  If I thank God for my job loss, is He going to leave me in employment limbo? If I publicly express my gratitude to God for (fill in the blank with your personal devastation) are others going to forget that I’m hurting?

I should always be striving for that “But-Free” thanksgiving, and sometimes, I hit it head-on; and when I do there is a great joy and peace that comes over my spirit. When I simply say, “Thank You, Lord, for THIS. THIS, as difficult as it may be, is drawing me closer to You so even though THIS is not what I would have chosen, I’m thankful that You chose it for me.”  We all know this without a doubt:  the closer we are to Jesus, the smaller our problems are, the lighter our burdens, the brighter the darkness.

You know, as I write this my heart is so heavy for those friends and acquaintances whose Thanksgiving tables will have a little more space around them this year. So many have lost loved ones this year; so many have experienced broken relationships with people they thought were in it for life with them. A lot of people are just flat-out hurting and confused right now for many reasons.

So, as we each strive for that “But-Free Thanksgiving” this year, let’s lift up those who are struggling in a deeper way this year. Pray for them, call them and remind them their loss has not been forgotten, remind them that you are thinking of them and thankful for them.  Let’s love them through the holidays by being the hands and heart of Jesus for them.

For all my friends, Happy Thanksgiving to you. May God’s goodness and love overshadow any trial and heartache you may be going through this holiday season.