To kick off our series, I’m thrilled to welcome my dear friend Betsy de Cruz back to the blog. Betsy has a gift for explaining God’s word in a practical, easy-to-understand way. Her words have prompted me to dig into scripture with fresh eyes and apply new techniques when studying it. I know you will be encouraged by her words about gratitude today.
When You Need to Give Thanks for God’s Love
Do you ever wonder what on earth God is up to? Life brings constant change, doesn’t it? Just when you think you have things figured out, God surprises you again. The unexpected hits you, and you wonder what to expect.
Last summer my family and I returned home to the Middle East after nine months of living stateside in an unfamiliar city. We could hardly wait to get back to “normal” life. We looked forward to the best tomatoes ever, summer peaches, olive trees, hot glasses of tea, hugging and kissing our friends on the cheek, and laughing for the pure joy of it all.
What we didn’t count on was culture shock all over again, a family member’s struggle with depression, political violence, and a national state of emergency.
When life throws you for a loop, it’s hard to give thanks in the transitions you didn’t plan.
You lose your job, or watch your child lose a friend to an auto accident. Deep inside, you wonder what God is doing and if He cares. And you ask all over again, “Are you there, God? Do you really love me?”
Sometimes it’s hard to believe, let alone give thanks.
If you’re struggling during this Season of Thanks, how about returning to the simple truth?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
We know this verse forwards, backwards, and upside down. We’ve heard it so many times that it goes inside one ear and out the other. I can hardly read it without remembering Sunday school in Fort Hancock, Texas. Miss Malloy said it was the Bible in a nutshell, so we painted “John 3:16” on pecans. Only I wasn’t that artistic, so I ran out of room after “John 3,” and the flower I tried to paint on my pecan got all smudged.
Today I read John 3:16 for the 967th time, but God impressed the words on my heart.
For God so loved the world that He gave…
God is love. It’s his nature to love. He loves you and me desperately. He loved us so much that He gave. He poured out love for us at the cross. When life shakes us, we can hold on because we have a love to hope in. In the fiercest storms, we can rest because we have a love to remain in.
We can give thanks no matter what because He’s already given His Son.
Here’s a Bible journaling exercise:
Write John 3:16 down, substituting your name for “the world” and “whoever.”
Read it a few times. Believe and receive it. Rest in it. Give thanks for it.
Lord, thank you for loving me. Help me to feel your love resting on me just as tangibly as I can feel a sweater on my shoulders. Your love covers me. It protects me and keeps me warm. I receive it right now. Help me remember today I’m dearly loved. Help me to love others well.
Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life with teenagers, and dark roast coffee. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. You can find Betsy at her blog, faithspillingover.com , on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.