In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. -I Thessalonians 5:18

I live on a corner lot on 3 acres, surrounded by tall, mature trees….well, that’s what I used to say. Twelve years ago we moved with our little boys (who are now all taller than me!) to a much smaller home than the one in which we were living. We took almost a year to make the decision, but we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own the land! The best part of the property was the trees. Even though we live on a busy street, close to businesses and highways, the trees surrounded the property, creating privacy and a feeling of living in the country. No one could even see our home in May- October, when the trees had their leaves. In the last 12 years we have invested heavily in our home, adding an addition, a pool, and a deck. We love the little corner of the world we call home.

About 18 months ago, we found out that our city officials had decided to put in a large round-about on our corner. To do so, they would be taking part of our property, including all the treeson the corner. All our privacy would be gone; plus, now the traffic would be right outside our front window, and very close to our pool. This was not a question, not a choice. This was just what was going to happen. I was devastated. My husband handles change much better than I do. He didn’t like it, but it never really bothered him. He understands that you cannot stop progress. My kids really couldn’t care less. If it does not affect their food supply or their ability to play sports and be with their friends, it’s no big deal. Teenagers.😂

My attitude was another story. I fought. I kicked and screamed. I met with officials, prayed, and, in general, had a really long pity party. Just when I thought I had made peace with the decision, someone would come up to me at church and ask me about the road construction. I’d give my nasty opinions again. Ladies, it wasn’t pretty. Finally the construction began, and for the last 5 months we’ve watched from our window as all the large trucks and tractors created a round-about in front of our home.

During these five and a half months, both streets were shut down completely. We had only one option of getting out of our house, and that detour put an extra five minutes onto our travel each time we drove anywhere. This frustration soon overtook the sadness over the loss of my beautiful trees and my privacy. As one month went into the next, and we drove through detours, over muddy roads, around potholes, all I wanted was for the road work to end. My attitude about the round-about shifted. I began anticipating the day when we could finally just leave our home and drive unhindered. That day finally came last week! I almost threw a party! Honestly, it was so exciting to have new roads, new light posts, a classy new round-about, and, most of all, quick, easy access. The headache of taking a detour all those months created a gratitude that I never had before when I used to simply pull out of my driveway and drive past my corner.

I find myself thanking God each time I drive on the new round-about. I’m so happy the construction project is done and our lives are back to normal! Are my trees gone? Yup. Do I look out of my window at the cars now, instead of nature? I do. Have my feelings changed? Completely. Why? Months of frustration and inconvenience made me thankful for small things I never thought of before. I have finally embraced the “progress” that was easy for my family to embrace long before I did. I wasted 18 months on something I couldn’t change. Now, I am just so thankful it’s done. I have never been thankful when I drove on a round-about before, but I am now. The “trial” is past. I am grateful for the little things now.

I give this story knowing that road construction and tree removal is not a true “trial.” So many of you know what a real “trial” is, because you are living through one right now! Loss of health,finances, jobs, and relationships are the real trials of life. I have experienced some real trials in life, and, the interesting thing I find is that, when the trial finally passes, I am so much MORE grateful for the little things than I was before the trial. My awareness of God’s blessings, small and large, is much greater. Have you noticed the same thing?

I don’t know if Mary grew up tending to farm animals. She mayor may not have milked cows as a girl, or cared for a donkey or a sheep. But I would venture to say that Mary never felt grateful for an animal’s feeding trough (a manger) until the night she needed a bed for her baby. She and Joseph were probably newlyaware of God’s provision of hay, straw, and the warmth of barn animals that night. I’m sure they were thankful for the little things, things they had never even thought about before.

There is an upside to our down times. They make us grateful for the small blessings of God. If you had COVID and lost your sense of taste and smell, weren’t you extra thankful for those senses when they returned? Trials have a way of magnifying things in our lives that we took for granted before, as we begin to thank God for them. If you ever had back problems or a broken leg, and you temporarily could not walk, how much did you thank God when you could walk again? Probably every day! If you’ve ever suffered from depression, as I have, you thank God every day afterward when you get out from under that dark cloud. Life feels so wonderful! Living is a privilege!

Trials in our lives should not be wasted. One of the positives of dark valleys is our appreciation for the sunlight afterwards. God uses times of grief, illness, loneliness, poverty, rejection, and loss. Thank Him now for what He is doing and will do in your future. Hold onto that hope, praise Him for what is, and what is to come. Have faith. The sun will shine again in your life, and you will be even more grateful for the light than you ever were before!

Merry Christmas, Friends! Thanks be to God for sending us His Son!