By Mahli Denton
Happy Thanksgiving! For some of us, this is our favorite time of year. All the holiday cheer, family fun, and good food. For others, this can be a dreaded and painful season.
For those who experience pain and loss in this season, it can be hard to feel grateful, when your heart is racked with grief. My heart is heavy for you. Jesus is even more. He is compassionate and full of mercy.
He who created you cares for you and knows your pain. In Him, you are never left to bear your sorrow alone. He is someone we can truly be grateful for! And even He wants to refill and renew you with HOPE.
Let’s look at seven reasons we can be grateful for Jesus, and if you are ready and really brave you can gather your courage, and grow into these traits too.
1. He is Compassionate.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. John 11:33-35 (NIV)
Jesus wept after speaking with Lazarus’s grieving sisters. Keep in mind, Jesus knew that He would be raising Lazarus from the dead. With Jesus knowing that this mourning and sorrow would soon turn to joy and surprise, why would he weep?
His compassionate love for us is so strong, even seeing His people in pain for a moment is enough to bring Him to tears. He knows that we do not possess the profound knowledge that He does. He can empathize with our frustration and confusion in times of grief, all while working it for good.
2. His love is Sacrificial
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
Crucifixion, historically, was one of the most painful, humiliating, public displays of death. According to the law, everyone who has sinned would deserve this kind of death. Unfortunately, we are all sinners which would mean we all deserve this kind of death. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.
Jesus died in our place. He took up our cross so that we can live and have a relationship with him. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13. He laid down his life to give us the opportunity to experience eternal peace.
For more about Jesus’ sacrifice read our blog: The Meaning of Easter
3. He is a Servant.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:3-5 (NIV)
Jesus the king of kings who could calm the raging seas (1 Timothy 6:15 & Matthew 35-41) came to this earth not to be served but to serve. He did this to lead by example because he knew in serving others we find joy and connection with those we serve.
Don’t believe me? I challenge you to volunteer anywhere and see how much better your mood is after serving. It’s how we can help people and impact this world for the better.
If you want to volunteer somewhere, and don’t know where to start, check out our serve-opportunities here. I promise you won’t regret it.
4. He is Forgiving
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times. Matthew 18:21–22 (NIV)
The truth about forgiveness is that it is never easy; it is hard. Forgiving someone that has wronged you repeatedly can seem like one of the most frustrating feelings in the world.
Forgiving means to extend grace where, typically, when you feel none is deserved. Sometimes you have to tell yourself you forgive that person over and over again and keep giving them to Jesus until you do. In other words, forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.
Jesus had it rough. He extended grace towards us repeatedly, receiving nothing. He died to extend the possibility of everlasting grace upon us. Seeing it in that way provides us with perspective. It does not make it easy, but it gives us another example to follow. He forgave even the people beating, torturing, and murdering him!
Part of forgiveness is letting go of the bitterness we hold towards another person. Once we let that bitterness go, it is like a weight is lifted off our shoulders and we can live in peace again. So even though it is hard to forgive when you can not forget, it is ultimately the only place you will find peace.
If you are having trouble forgiving someone, here are a few books that might help. Forgive When You Can’t Forget by Lisa Terkerst & The Bait of Satan by John Bevere.
5. Jesus is gentle
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30 (NIV)
Gentleness is commonly misconceived as passivity. Jesus shows us that true gentleness is courage and strength that comes from humility.
Remaining warm in a world that can be so cold takes strength. We can all probably think of a time that we have been too hard on someone else, or even ourselves.
Just as you have lacked gentleness in your life, a friend or family member has likely treated you in a similar way. Think for a moment how the world may be different if we were all gentle with one another, just as God has been with us.
A good way to start this habit is to practice empathizing with those around you. By putting yourself in their situation, you may find it easier to understand and exude the gentleness Christ has shown to us.
6. Jesus is patient
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
Patience is something we are called to do, and it is something we must become. Patience doesn’t come easily or naturally for most of us. A common question that arises is “Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet? It’s been so long.” The answer? With patience, He is giving us all the opportunity to learn about Him and come to repentance.
As imperfect people, we lose our patience easily. Traffic, family quarrels, technology malfunctions, and all sorts of daily stressors cause us all to react. At times, we will fail to be patient. When this happens, look to Jesus as an example of the ultimate guide to keeping your sense of peace.
Jesus does not expect you to be perfect. Jesus extends patience to us every day! We should strive to extend that patience in our daily lives.
7. Jesus is Humble.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” Philippians 2:8-9 (NIV)
Jesus led a life of humility. Not only did He live life on earth as a man, but He also died a sinner’s death. The humanity of Jesus is just as real as the everlasting power of Him. Although fully God, Jesus came to the earth in the likeness of an average man. This week, consider taking a step back. When you see someone in need on your way to work, remember that in God’s eyes, you are equals.
Do not let your heart become hardened to the truth that is: We are all deserving of death. The good news? God does not have favorites. We were all given the same gift of eternal life by God our Father!
For more on humility check out our blog How to Knock Out Pride With a Piece of Humble Pie.
This Thanksgiving, no matter what you are going through, knows that you have a Lord and Savior who loves you with unconditional love. He cares about you in your joys and he cares about you in your sorrows. He promises to work “all things together for good, for those who love him, and are called according to his Purpose” (Romans 8:28). So you are not alone!
Know that His heart is to redeem and restore every hard thing you’ve ever been through. Your only job is to show up, and keep receiving his love, and love him back! That’s a super sweet amazing deal! And so much to be thankful for.
That’s why he makes it easy to keep giving thanks, even in the hard times, and keep growing into the person He has created you to be!
Please know you can reach out to us at any time for prayer…..and to know you are dearly loved. And in that….give THANKS!