What a year it has been. Things have been so strange and crazy this year that when people ask me how I am, I now just answer 2020. Some good things have come even from these difficult times for me. I have learned to be still. I have learned to listen and watch for the movement of God perhaps better than I ever have before. I have learned to better love people with whom I disagree. I have learned to be calmer. I hope I am learning endurance and the reality of God’s never ending gift of grace. All of these things have really come about because of the negative. I learned most of them by observing the negative and sinful nature of others and myself. Then I got tired. I got tired of complaining, arguing, worrying, and fretting over what will come next. I got so tired that I actually started practicing what I preach better. I began letting go and letting God.
Recently I was in a meeting with other clergy and we had come to the end of our business. At that point in our meetings we are asked for prayer concerns. There are always several and this year there have been even more than usual. However on this day, no one said anything. I felt that uneasiness we often feel when a question is asked and no answers from the group. I began racking my brain. I had lots on my prayer list in my journal so I grabbed it out of my bag, but as I read the Spirit seemed to be saying something else. I felt a sense of thanksgiving. I always try to list and give thanks for the things for which I am thankful and for the ways I have seen God moving, but in that moment that was all I could ponder. So I asked for a prayer of thanksgiving for all those who have been praying for each other, the church, the world, and even for their pastor.
That moment opened a flood gate in me. I just shared the one and closed my eyes as I was flooded with emotions. I just kept thinking of things for which I am thankful even during what for many of us has been the hardest season of our lives. I do not think I am ready to say I am thankful for 2020 just yet, but I am grateful for how I have experienced and witnessed God moving. I realized I am still tired, but God is not. As I gave thanks, I wondered how many others were feeling tired and thankful too. It seemed as if at least a few others in that meeting were. They too shared God sightings and prayers of thanksgiving.
I think the Church, as in the Church universal, is tired too. I also hope we are ready to embrace a time of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day is this month, but we cannot wait that long to be thankful. I am asking God to open my heart more to help me see and experience how God is providing even now. I am asking God to turn my tired and broken heart from mourning to celebration. I am asking God to turn my soul from night to day. I am not going to quit praying for healing and transformation, but I am going to start giving thanks for where I have already seen and experienced the Kingdom of God at work.
There is a peace that indeed surpasses understating when we admit not only that we are in need, but that God is indeed at work. There is real purpose in not only asking God for help, but identifying where God is already providing and joining in that work. I do not have the answers for 2020, but I want to know the One who does even better. We cannot fix all the world’s problems, but through joining in the work of God we can be part of the solution. So as we move into the traditional season of Thanksgiving I want to invite you to move from mourning what we have lost, and embracing what can make us new. I want to invite you to look for ways in which God is at work and to share those God sighting with all who will listen. Lastly, I want to invite you to take the time to recognize the God who has not stopped providing hope and who will lead us to better days. I am still tired, but I think I am resting easier knowing that God is not done with me. I hope you too find that God has been here all along and will not leave us now. I hope you find rest and contagious hope.
Tired but leaning on the One who does not tire,
Pastor Jimmy Hendricks, firstname.lastname@example.org