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How to experience a joyful Thanksgiving despite ministry challenges

by | Nov 20, 2023

By Susanne Maynes

When my children were young and I was homeschooling them, I faced an ongoing battle with frequent, excessive fatigue. God’s grace was sufficient for me to accomplish what I had committed myself to, but some days represented quite a challenge.

I remember one day when I planned to do a kitchen math lesson with my youngest son. By the time we got to that part of our lessons, fatigue weighed me down so much I wondered if I could complete the task.

Thankfully, I had enough strength to go through the lesson, which involved learning measurements by baking cookies—a fun one!

When I think back to that day, what I remember most is not the challenge I faced or what I lacked, but rather, the joy I experienced in God’s provision. 

He gave me what I needed in that moment—the strength to finish one small task. 

And that was enough.

I believe great joy can come from small victories. Simple pleasures. Childlike faith.

Those of us in pro-life ministry can tend to take ourselves too seriously. After all, lives are at stake. We look at the big picture of overwhelming needs, staunch opposition, lack of finances. 

We wonder, “How are we going to…” or “What if _______ happens?” 

We become anxious because our focus is on task, responsibility, and difficulty. We fixate on what is wrong, what needs to change, and what we need to do about it.

We forget that we are ultimately not in charge.

Although it’s appropriate for us to invest ourselves thoroughly in this life-affirming labor of love, we must remember to cast our burdens on the Lord on a daily basis.

This is His ministry.

But how do we break out of the pattern of feeling overwhelmed and anxious?

If I tell you not to think about pink elephants, of course pink elephants will immediately come to mind. 

So instead of telling you not to think about the challenges, issues, and problems you face in pro-life ministry, may I make a suggestion?

As you approach Thanksgiving, choose to take an official worry break. Focus on the moment you are in and what God is doing or providing.

This could be as simple as noticing a stunning, golden leaf still clinging to an almost bare tree and how the autumn sun lights it up. 

Or hearing the giggles and shrieks of children in a schoolyard and watching them play.

Maybe it’s mindfully savoring a sip of your favorite coffee instead of chugging it down so you can get the lift you need to get stuff done.

Or enjoying a laugh-until-you-cry moment with a friend over a great joke.

The moments you choose to savor could have something to do with ministry—another life saved, a client experiencing breakthrough, a new program for dads launched—but that’s not required. 

In fact, you may need to set your ministry hat aside to rediscover joy. And that’s okay.

Keeping a gratitude journal might work for you. 

Or maybe you do best by simply stopping once or twice during your day and intentionally reflecting on God’s goodness in the small things.

Maybe you just need to take some deep breaths and let go of what is bothering you. Breathe in the Lord’s presence; exhale as you give your concerns to Jesus.

Perhaps your senses need re-awakening. Treat yourself to sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures. Revel in the beautiful world God created.

God gives us lovely gifts every day. We can easily overlook them if our minds are too busy with worry—but in the overlooking, we forfeit one of the most important gifts we can receive.

The gift of joy.

This Thanksgiving let’s set aside our concerns. Let’s enjoy ourselves to the full. 

Let’s believe the Lord when He says we can cast all our cares on Him (including ministry cares!) because He cares about us (1 Peter 5:7).

Mind if I pray for you?

Lord, I lift up my sisters and brothers in prolife ministry. May we experience deep, true, life-giving joy as we remember all You have done for us—and are doing for us—in this season of giving thanks. Quiet our hearts and restore our peace as we look to you in childlike faith, knowing You are utterly trustworthy. Thank you for the gift of joy. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Editor’s note This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and reposted with permission.

Categories: Pro-Lifers