Our farm has been dusted in powder sugar snow and flakes are flying as I write. I love the climate changes here in Wisconsin—the unique beauty of every season. The horses are now blanketed for the harsh northwest winds. The cats are snuggled in their polar-fleeced hay igloo in the barn. The tractor has been fitted with snowplow. Gardens are at rest, plowed and top-dressed with composted manure.
All leaves are gone and branches sway bare. Evergreens provide cover for farm birds who stay, like cardinals and chickadees and juncos. Gone are the swallows and orioles and sand hill cranes. And I think of them returning next May as they always do. And I thank God for His seasons and cycles, so perfectly timed.
And what about those in soul winters right now? What about those who are grieving when Thanksgiving is two days away? I think of one of my dearest Christian sisters who just lost her grandfather suddenly Saturday. She and I talked on the phone today right before meeting her father to shop for a suit jacket to be worn to the funeral. She said this Thanksgiving will be a “cry fest” as she and her extended family gather in preparation of saying their final goodbyes on Friday.
And what about those who are experiencing their first Thanksgiving of loss—by death—by divorce—by job—by serious disease diagnosis? In whom or what do they put their hope? In whom or what do they trust? Should they fake sunny disposition when they are raining on the inside? Is it possible to be in both sun and rain simultaneously?
With Christ, the answer is—yes. We don’t have to fake happy.
One can grieve and cry without shame because Christ knows our pain. He’s been there. He’s been here. There is no pain with which He cannot empathize. And for this Great Love, we can give thanks, no matter what our soul season.
I met with a lovely young woman yesterday—someone I’ve been providing emotional support and guidance to for many months. She told me something worth repeating—something I learned long ago—something that warmed my heart to hear coming from her.
“I’m grateful for the pain I’ve been through this past year because it’s made me able to empathize with others going through similar situations.”
So we can be thankful for painful times because God will bring us through and work through us to help alleviate the suffering of others who need to know that someone—anyone—has walked a similar path and come through better, stronger.
So this Thanksgiving, one of my great thanks is for those who have had guts and humility enough to be real—to share their pain with another and allow themselves to be loved real so they can heal and go on and go out to give that same Christ-love to others. To me, this is how we give Christ to the world. The world doesn’t want clichés or platitudes. The world needs love—true, empathic Christ-love, balanced always with truth.
The love of Christ and the truth of Christ ALWAYS sets us free—from anything—from everything. And the freed can go out and help set others free with the same love of Christ and truth of Christ we have experienced. True love, Christ’s love—it always heals and expands.