“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Gratitude is rarely, if ever, learned in good times, times of plenty or when your heart is light and you’re happy and carefree. Gratitude grows out of times of hunger and deep sadness; times we would never choose for ourselves.
There have been seasons of my life when nothing made sense; when God seemed far away, and prayer seemed useless. Faith was hard because my heart had grown cold. Fear and anger reigned and the tunnel of darkness in which I sought to find my way seemed unending. Those I once called “friend” were nowhere to be found; I stumbled under the weight of my debt, and love seemed a distant memory.
It was impossible for me to look at what was left because in my mind there was nothing but debt, darkness, and desertion. And the catalyst of my misery was assuming the blame was all mine. It’s impossible to “talk sense” into someone when nothing is making sense.
Rick Warren wrote: “How does gratitude develop your faith? It happens when times are tough—when things don’t make sense, when you can’t figure it out, when your prayers are unanswered, when everything is going the way you didn’t want it to go. It happens when you can say in those circumstances, “God, I know you’re in control. I know you love me, and I know you can bring good out of this. I’m thankful that you’re bigger than my problem.”
I wish I could say that that’s the way I responded, but it took time for me to figure it out. I had to run out of options and get to the very end of myself. I remember sitting by my bed wondering when this nightmare would end, complaining to God that I’d lost everything. I was exhausted, literally begging God to let me die, when God spoke. It wasn’t in an audible voice, but no less clear. He said: “You haven’t lost everything because you haven’t lost Me and I’m all you need.”
My circumstances didn’t immediately change, but I did. I learned to trust again, to love again, to believe again. Suddenly my empty cup was beginning to fill with evidence that God was with me and for me. It took time, but, as Dr. Robert Schuller often said: “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch.”
Today I take nothing for granted. I give heartfelt thanks for everything the Lord gives me. Every second I have with Him, with my wife and kids, every meal, every house payment, utility bill, gift to the church, every time the Lord provides resources for the things we need from day to day. I’m learning that I don’t want anything unless the Lord makes it clear it’s from Him.
It’s difficult to give thanks for what’s left until you realize that you ALWAYS have, not necessarily some-THING left, but if you love Jesus, you always have some-ONE left. He will never leave or forsake us; He’s a very present help in times of need; He’s the Friend who’s walking in when everyone else is walking out; He’s the One who sticks closer than a brother.
I have no way of knowing what you’re going through right now, but I know this with absolute certainty, if you’re not grateful when times are good, you’ll not be able to give thanks when times are hard. Like Habakkuk in the prayer above, learn to be joyful in God your Savior and whatever happens you’ll always have some-One to which and for which you can be grateful. If you find one day, He’s all you have left – He’s enough!
Blessings, Ed 😊
2 thoughts on “Looking at What’s Left”
“If you find one day, He’s all you have left – He’s enough!”
AMEN! AMEN!! AMEN!!!
Thank you brother Ed!
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He’s more than enough for me, even if He’s all I have left! Thanks Ed.