Grateful For the Silver Lining by Caroline McMillan The New Life Group

Tuesday, November 23, 2021 @ 9:01 PM

Thankfulness is in season right now. The leaves turn color, the air is crisp, and everyone begins to think of family and home as the holidays approach. Thanksgiving, in particular, highlights those wonderful things in our lives we are grateful for. But sometimes we forget to be thankful for more than just the easy basics: food, shelter, and love.

Being grateful for all the good things we have can be easy. We fill up our lists with warmth, joy, a good bed, health, our favorite celebrity, and our paycheck (even if we’re not so hot about our job). But what about that friend who takes advantage of your hospitality, or the boss who’s never happy no matter what you do? What about the cold weather ramping up your energy bill? Can we be grateful for these things too?

The answer is, unequivocally, “Yes!” Perhaps your impinging friend helps you cultivate patience and set limits or your boss’s unreasonably high expectations do, maddeningly enough, make your work better. Or maybe the cold weather encourages you to spend more time with your family--whether that’s inside playing board games or outside shooting hoops to keep warm. The trick is to find the silver lining to your obstacles and be thankful for the whole package.

A life without difficulties isn’t very interesting. Think of all the classic stories that capitalize on problems to create things a character is thankful for. Without the betrayal of his friend in The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes would never have found the old priest’s treasure and become an educated, wealthy man of good standing in the community. Without Kitty’s embarrassing elopement in Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie would never have seen just how much Mr. Darcy loved her. Without a family in The Blind Side, Michael Oher would never have met Leigh Ann Tuoy and been inspired to become a star football player by capitalizing on his God-given gifts. The struggles in these stories make the endings sweet.

Perhaps that is why the struggles of a young woman in ancient times named Mary, who becomes pregnant out of wedlock, is so poignant even today. Luckily, her husband-to-be, Joseph, (who we all know is definitely not the father) takes her as his wife anyway but life still isn’t easy for them. With a census called, the young couple must travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem when Mary is nearing her pregnancy

term.

On a donkey and traveling slowly, they reach Bethlehem after an

arduous week of travel. As they near the little town, Mary goes into

labor. Unfortunately, many people have come to Bethlehem for the census and every inn is full. Joseph knocks on door after door looking for a place to stay but no one can spare them room. Finally, an innkeeper takes pity and offers them a place in his stable. While it’s no five star hotel, they can’t wait any longer and Mary gives birth surrounded by cattle, goats, and sheep.

For the birth of a healthy baby boy, Mary and Joseph, as normal parents would be thankful but they know there is much more to be grateful for. They know that their child is the son of God and they are the earthly parents of their Savior whom Mary names Jesus. But the true

payoff comes some thirty years later as Mary agonizes over her beloved

son’s crucifixion. Her pain is short-lived, though, when he is raised from the dead three days later. While she doesn’t understand the full implications of what has happened, her son has just saved every

believing person from the grips of Satan.

This isn’t just any story--it’s the story of redemption for the world. While it isn’t Christmas yet, we can still be thankful for the sacrifices Mary and Joseph made as the bewildered parents of our Savior. Without a “Parenting the Savior of the World for Dummies” guidebook, I imagine there were many times they were truly flummoxed. And we can be truly grateful for the life Jesus lived and surrendered to save us.

Being thankful isn’t always easy. I’m sure there were times when Mary and Joseph were at their wits end and not feeling especially grateful for the task God gave them of raising Jesus. But the silver lining never goes away. Our job is to find it and make sure we’re always thankful for that. Without struggles, the end result just wouldn’t be the same. So, while thankfulness is in season, remember to be thankful for the things driving you nuts because they’re just as important as the good things in life.

The New Life Group ~ Pleasant Hill

140 Gregory Lane, Ste. 250

Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

(925) 351 7240

kithill@thenewlifegroup.org

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