Parents of teen or adult children who struggle with substance use, mental health issues (or any other distressing situation) find the holidays a most difficult time of year, especially Thanksgiving.
After relapses and hospitalizations, diagnoses and treatment centers, incarceration or homelessness – when you have no idea what the future holds, but what you do see looks foreboding, gratitude feels impossible.
Hanging on by a thread, your world is wrecked by your child’s self-destruction.
Everywhere you go, people appear happy … but not you.
When your heart is broken, giving thanks looks like a supernatural feat, a mountain you can’t climb.
Smiling is a burden.
I remember a time like that when I carried a lot of pain and heartache. I struggled to function with no joy and little hope.
If that’s you, could gratitude be possible in the midst of your trials? Try identifing a few of God’s blessings.
You don’t feel like it? Do ityes, anyway–by faith, not based on emotions.
If we waited until we felt like it, we’d never give thanks during hard times. The burden would be too heavy.
3 Ways We Can Offer God Thanks in Hard Times
Pastor and author Dr. Charles Stanley says we can still give thanks in these 3 ways, even when it feels impossible:
1. Offer God thanks with music and song. Get out an old hymn book or go to YouTube and type in the names of a few you remember like Great is Thy Faithfulness or Redeeming Love.
2. Offer God thanks by living your life for him. Everything you do is an offering to the Lord of lords and King of kings.
3. Offer God thanks with generosity to others. Ask him for an idea of what this might be.
Dear heartsick parent, yes, the holidays are hard, but if you try to do any of these the heaviness might lighten. You could find some joy. By the power of His glorious might I believe it’s possible.
A few days ago, a hurting mom shared with me how she chooses to focus on others during the holidays and doing that brings her great joy. Showing kindness and generosity to someone in need helps her forget her own sadness for a little while. Although nothing changes with her child’s situation, she feels better.
Turn Calamities into Blessings?
The Bible says, Always [give] thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20) NLV.
I think this verse must have inspired theologian William Law when he wrote the following:
“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness—
he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God
for everything that happens to you.
For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you,
if you thank and praise God for it,
you turn it into a blessing.
Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit,
for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all that it touches into happiness.
… it be the noblest sacrifice that the greatest saint can offer unto God.”
– William Law (1686 –1761) A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
Pray with Me: Dear God, please fill me with the peace, comfort, and strength that could be mine by offering you this most noble sacrifice – thanksgiving and praise for the heartache I’m enduring with my child. Do the impossible of making miracles by turning my calamities into blessings as I offer you a sacrifice of praise. Amen.
Have a God-blessed Thanksgivng, dear friends. You are not alone!
Recommended book: My Cup Overflows…with the Peace of Your Presence by Emilie Barnes