As I sit here this morning, I am overwhelmed with the words whirling through my mind which I long to commit to the page. It’s like there’s a beautiful snowfall of thoughts in my mind. Like wonderful holiday snowflakes each thought is so lovely and I am like a kid who’s not coming inside because I want to play as long I as I can capture those magic moments.
There’s a part of me that wants to shape my thoughts into snowballs and throw them at you. As we duck and dodge, we’ll experience hits and misses but through it all there will be laughter and joy. There’s another part of me that longs to build a stunning snow sculpture to let my artistic side come out and to leave you in awe of what I have done. Finally there’s a part of me that desires to build us a snow fort with my thoughts. A place of protection where we can share great conversations in confidence and privacy.
Alas, I have come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is to sit together with our cocoa and chat while we are in awe of the Maker of each perfect snowflake. Let’s look out as they fall and see the stunning transformation of the world around us as we are reminded that God will make that which is crimson red as pure white as new fallen snow.
Today is Thanksgiving. Where I live in southwestern Minnesota, there are many years where Thanksgiving is filled with snow. The forecast for today is a high of 48 degrees; there probably will not be snow this year. We can be thankful though, that travel of families getting together like my own will not be prohibited as it has been in those snowy years.
There is so much that I have to be thankful for. I gave great consideration to listing many of those tender blessings for you. God’s love for me, my love for Him. My husband, Eric. My children, Andrew and Zoey. My parents. My siblings. My in-laws. My friends. Big blessings – being a part of the Church body. Tiny blessings – mint chocolate, yum.
As I read through my short list and ponder expanding it, they all seem like tender blessings. Tender, lovely, precious, soft and delicate. But tender can have other, not so pleasant meanings. I’m looking at the list of meanings on dictionary.com. The list includes acutely painful or sensitive, easily distressed, yielding to force or pressure, easily broken, fragile and requiring careful handling.
Today, those are the kinds of blessings that I want to give thanks for. There have been many times in my life where I felt pain, when I was easily distressed, when I experienced brokenness and required careful handling. Yet, as I sit here this morning watching the snowflake thoughts fall, I realize those are the times out of which the most amazing blessings came forth in my life.
I recalled the journey I have taken in my work life. As much as I tried, I found the profession that I was in was so empty to me. I labored at it, giving what I thought would make it better. I even achieved some success, but the emptiness was still there. I was so sad because I felt that I was lacking in rich depth. I was going through the motions. I was frustrated. I was upset. I felt alone and misunderstood. I was definitely yielding to the pressure and extremely distressed. Anyone around me could see the sensitivity in my tears and how often they flowed.
Through all that tender pain, God’s love was with me. He was guiding me. It is by His hand than I am where I am right now. Much of the tenderness has been replaced by healing blessings. I am so thankful for it. I’m in such a drastically different situation. Ironically, much of where I am is somewhere I never would have expected in years past. Before the tender time in my life, I would have probably laughed and said never.
I’ve experienced great tenderness in my relationships, especially with those closest to me. Some relationships have bruised me. Bruises which were very sore for a long time, a few are still in the process of healing and others have left scars as reminders. At other times, I am so sad and regretful to admit, I was the one inflicting the pain which brought on tenderness. I give thanks for all the tender and bruised times. Out of them I received my greatest blessings.
If I had not experienced the tender times, I would not have the same understanding of grace, of mercy and of love. I have been so humbled and taught so many lessons the hard way. Though it caused tenderness, out of it came a centered focus on my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Look at what the Bible says about tender times.
“Consider it a pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3
“We all stumble in many ways.” James 3:2a
“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of mercy and compassion.” James 5:10-11
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3
Jesus sees us in all of our tenderness. He sees how delicate we are. He sees each and every hurt. He feels with us when our hearts ache. He knows that we require careful handling.
Did you know that tender can also mean easily moved to compassion? Jesus, His tender heart, is the perfect picture of this definition of tenderness. Jesus will be tender with you. He knows everything already, but His love for us surpasses all of that knowledge. He will be with us through ever moment of every hard time, because He knows all of the blessings that will grow out of the tender situations. He knows when we will give thanks for those tender times.
Today is my day. Thank You Lord, for each of those tender times. May I experience Your blessing through it all! Perhaps you understand giving thanks for the harder times, perhaps you are not to that point yet. There is one way, Jesus. For He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6. Keep with Jesus. He will have you giving thanks for things you never thought you would.
Dearest and Beloved Lord,
Thank You! Praise to You! Deep adoration to the glory of Your Name!
Lord, those tender times have been really painful. They hurt. I did not like them one bit when I was going through them. I asked You often to take them from me or take me away from them. Looking back, though I do not understand Your timing, I am grateful. I am thankful for Your perfect knowledge of what it is, what was and what is to come.
Even more so, I am so grateful for Your love. Thank You for the way it covers us. Thank You for the way You are ever present with us, especially in suffering. In Jesus’ name, amen.