Thanksgiving is the time of year when family and friends gather together and express their gratitude for all they have. It’s the season for giving to others and a time to put into perspective the things that truly matter.
But why is it so difficult for us to do these things all year round?
I’ve recently noticed how quickly and easily people give up. I’ve shared with friends about some of the struggles I’ve encountered in this season I’m in and I was surprised to find how many were quick to say maybe I wasn’t in the place God wanted me, maybe I should try something else, or maybe I should just quit altogether.
But being in God’s will doesn’t mean a struggle-free existence. Often times, it means walking right into the battle. His plan usually includes sharpening us through tests and trials and refining us through fire.
How much do we miss out on in life when we give up too easily?
Our society has cultivated an attitude of “what’s in it for me?” When we feel we aren’t getting enough out of what we’re doing, we quickly give up and move on. But what if it’s not about us or how we feel? What if we’re gaining skills and training for something down the road? What if His plan is not for you to get something but for you to give something?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Joseph lately. God’s plan for his life involved being kidnapped, sold as a slave and false imprisonment. What if he had given up? What if he had run away or escaped from Egypt? The world at that time, and what would eventually become the nation of Israel, would have been completely destroyed by famine.
We’ve fallen prey to the idea that says if we’re on the right path then we should face very little adversity, and if we do face difficulties they should be overcome very easily. So when we come across adversity, we quickly look for the easiest way to ease the pain.
Joseph, however, didn’t give up. He persevered and continued on the difficult path God had set before him. Joseph never imagined he’d be a slave or a prisoner and, yet, because of his perseverance through these trials and continued to give of himself, he was able to save his family, the entire nation of Egypt, and ensured the survival of YHVH’s chosen people Israel.
How much could we accomplish if only we didn’t give up at the first sign of difficulty?
Like Joseph, God could have us on a path that, while difficult in the present, could be for the benefit of countless others later. But if we’re too quick to give up, we could miss out on being a blessing to others further down the path.
As I’ve walked out this new season with new challenges, I feel YHVH asking me to give of myself in new and difficult ways. As I serve others, I don’t get anything obvious in return. In fact, it often costs me a great deal to serve others in this new capacity, but I know this is where YHVH wants me and that He’s training me for something more.
In these difficult moments of feeling empty after giving of myself to others, YHVH has reminded me that when we give, we should give freely, expecting nothing in return. He’s also reminded me that sometimes we are put into difficult seasons not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of those we will cross paths with on this journey.
One of the most powerful ways to serve others is to persevere through the struggles of life and completing the task YHVH has set before you. As you persevere, you just might find others who are also struggling and need to be shown the love of Yeshua. As they watch you rely on YHVH as you walk through difficulties, you just might be shining the light and love of God that they so desperately need.
Giving of ourselves and expecting nothing in return is difficult, draining and tiring to be sure. But if we are faithful to the work He is doing in us, it will be to our benefit and to the benefit of those around us.
Like Joseph, we can never fully grasp why we must walk the paths we are on or why we must endure the trials we go through, but if we can continue to endure and be faithful to give of ourselves – even when it seems we don’t receive anything in return – YHVH will always be faithful to provide for us and help us become stronger through it all.
And that’s something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!