Ok, so there is no “Thanksgiving Day” in Ukraine, not like in the United States in any case. Nevertheless, it is that time of the year and I guarantee you the American Community here in Kyiv will be thinking Turkey & Dressing today! I’m spending the day with my friends, the Hathcocks, and a bunch of their friends for all the traditional fare including (maybe) Football (not Futbol) on TV. We’re not quite sure how we’re going to pull that off yet...but we are committed to making it happen! I’ll probably make a Skype phone call to my family sometime this evening. And late tonight I'm taking the overnight train to Odessa for a few days to visit with some friends from summer camp and with my friends Katya, Vika and Yura whom I met in 2004 during my first trip to Ukraine. I hope the time you have with your family reminds you of all you have to be thankful for.
Being thankful is something I’ve struggled with the last few months. I’ve been listening to Ben Stuart’s Podcastthis month (from the Breakaway Bible Study at Texas A&M) as he’s been going through the book of James.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers” James says, “whenever you face trials of many kinds….”
Consider it pure joy? What was he smokin’? I hate to sound like a weenie but most of this year has been a trial for me with no end in sight! And I’m supposed to “consider it pure joy”?
Really? I’d rather complain and protest. It’s a lot easier to list all the things that have gone wrong and the things I’m definitely not thankful for!
But then I read (in 2nd Cor. 11) where Paul is boasting about all the crap he’s been through and then in Phil. 3 he essentially recounts all that would otherwise be accounted as “blessings” in his life and says of them that he considers them as a “loss for the sake of Christ.” It’s hard not to see the “upside-down-ed-ness” of following Christ.
Lord, I want to want Your will to be done no matter the consequences. I want to be like Paul and James and see that my trials are for my good– they are producing Godly character in me. I want to be like the Hebrews in the fire– I want to trust You even if you choose not to deliver me from the fire.
Finally, here's some things I'm thankful for...I posted these a few days ago in another blog, but they bear repeating I guess:
I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to be in Ukraine all year, for the opportunity to move forward with language study. I’m thankful that I’m making progress. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m actually reading, writing, understanding and speaking a 2nd language– even if I do sound like a toddler!! I’m thankful to have lived on less than half of what I originally thought it would take. I’m thankful for my family’s unyielding support of me. I’m thankful for a handful of friends that have consistently reminded me this year that they are! I’m thankful that what I’ve done is not who I am! I’m thankful that He hasn’t forsaken me and He won’t. If it gets worse before it gets better, He’ll still be walking through it with me. And I’m thankful for your continued prayers for me as I approach what has to be the culmination of this ordeal I’ve suffered through all year long.