The words of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 echo through my mind as I think about this last year.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
It has been an amazingly unexpected year for us. Very little ended up as I had thought it might when I sat eating turkey in 2011.
At this time last year, I was dreaming of what it would be like to have my China-born son home and celebrating with us; not knowing that the one who would be sitting here was our China-born son...but our second, not first...something exceedingly, abundantly above all I could have asked or imagined.
We had no idea that Luke would die and that out of his death, he, Joshua and we would experience new life....abundant life.
And isn't that what we celebrate and give thanks for on Thanksgiving?
At its inception, Thanksgiving was a day set aside to give thanks for God's rescue of a suffering, struggling band of life-abandoned, worship-driven, Jesus freaks. They called themselves Pilgrims.
This year, more than any other, the concept of my being a pilgrim in this temporary world has been driven home more than any other. This world is not my home. This tent cries out to be clothed with immortality. I have so many treasures already at Home.
I am learning to "give thanks in all circumstances" as the NIV puts it.
So this year, not only do I give thanks for the abundance of blessings God has showered on my life...the ones everyone would have agreed ahead of time would be blessings:
My Great God, my husband, my children, my family, my church family, my freedom to worship and live as I feel led, His provision for bringing Joshua home, the abundance with which He has showered us.
But I also give thanks for those things which, had I known of them in advance, gratitude might not have been the first response of my heart...
I give thanks for Luke's home-going and his wholeness in his permanent home.
I give thanks that I have been counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.
I give thanks for the grand mal seizure and the physical rest and illumination it ushered in.
I give thanks for the loneliness of pain that leaves only the Father to run to.
I give thanks that there is much to be learned in the valley.
I give thanks that I can trust that His purposes are for good and not for evil.
I give thanks that I got to see and experience and hear with my own eyes and ears and heartthat 'joy does come in the morning!' Out of grief, He redeemed the precious life of Joshua.
I give thanks that He clearly leads and clearly answers the cries of our hearts for wisdom, discernment, and comfort.
I give thanks that 'my times are in His hands' (Ps. 31).
I give thanks that a 'bruised reed He will not break, nor a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.' (Is 42)
I give thanks that even though I do not know what tomorrow brings or what may come in the next 12 months...He does.
I have a long way to go in learning to 'give thanks in all circumstances,' but I am thankful that I have the best Teacher.