Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
"Yes, but think about it this way ..."
Recently, I was presented with this respectful challenge. It was intended to encourage me to view a difficult situation from a different angle and see God's goodness in it.
Doing so eased the heartache.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite celebrations.
But this year will be my first without Dad who passed away March 17th.
My childhood home was sold soon thereafter to another family who are gutting the interior. The lonely, silent house won’t be enjoying a traditionally robust Thanksgiving gathering since it was built in 1968.
If trespassing weren't a punishable offense, I'd picnic on the lawn to keep the house company.
Seriously, I would.
If I allow my mind to linger on these thoughts for longer than two nano seconds, sadness seeps in … which rolls into waves of anger, then bitterness … thoughts which are outside the parameters of true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
Instead, I thought about it this way …
Dad is enjoying a heavenly banquet with Jesus and Mom—minus the post-meal indigestion, and, praise God, the house wasn't razed. It stands as a testimony to future generations of the legacy of love and faith I share with my siblings.
Jesus wept after Lazarus died. (John 11:35) But he never wavered from seeing the situation as anything less than true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Jesus recognized the situation as a ripe, teachable moment before a captive, confused, and grieving audience.
Jesus wept because of their lack of faith in his ability to do immeasurably more than they'd asked. They were unwilling to elevate their thoughts out of the pit of despair, see the excellence in his ways, and trust his goodness even in death.
My lack of faith leads my thoughts away from what's true, excellent, and praiseworthy.
In our endeavor to be optimistic and trusting—thinking of things this way—let's be honest about the effect hardship has had in our lives. A world in need of the compassion only a suffering Savior can give will benefit from our authenticity, not plastic smiles we too often wear to mask what hurts.
Painful emotions serve good purpose and should be acknowledged. Trauma and loss and hardship is real, even life-changing.
But we must pay attention to what we’re paying attention to.*
Is it true, noble, and right? Is it pure, lovely, and admirable? Is it excellent or praiseworthy? Are we refusing to move past the sorrow?
How might we think about things another way?
When prayers go unanswered, could God be protecting us?
What character might God be developing in us through our difficulty?
Attitude is everything. Let's choose a good one—especially at Thanksgiving when we, like Jesus, might have a captive audience.
☀︎ What helps you to see the good in difficult situations?
☀︎ What's your response when something doesn't turn out as you'd hoped?
*Inspired by Dr. Curt Thompson's latest book, The Soul of Desire.
Thanks for reading!
If you were inspired by today's post and know others who would enjoy it, I'd be super grateful if you'd share.
1. Sweeter with You—book 2 in The Heart of Moreland Manor series (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.) is with the editor in chief. It could release as early as THIS month!
2. A Steel Rose, a contemporary romance novella set in central Washington, is part of a multi-author project (MAP) and releases March 28th, 2023.
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Until next time,
MARY'S FICTION SHELF
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✏️ This I Promise You (Gardenia Press)
Prequel to The Heart of Moreland Manor series.
What if finding your heart's desire means entrusting it ... just once more ... to the one who broke it?
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✏️What the Morning Brings: 52 Inspirational Story-Style Devotions (Gardenia Press)
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