A Thanksgiving Devotional

Two women sitting and praying outside at Portland Rescue Mission

Our guest blogger today is Karen Hartmann, Chaplain to the women at Shepherd’s Door. She has been in full-time ministry as an ordained pastor since 1980. She shares a Thanksgiving devotional that reflects the heart of Portland Rescue Mission as we journey alongside our guests towards transformation and new life. 

Having just completed the Restoration program at Shepherd’s Door, Laura* shared her desperation in the year leading up to her decision to enter recovery treatment. 

She had tried rehab, been hospitalized, endured a heart attack, and during a 17-hour spell of extreme vomiting, prayed for death to overtake her. 

Laura related the reassurances from family and friends who encouraged, “Laura, you got this.” She admitted that the further she journeyed into her recovery program, the more aware she became that no, she didn’t have this. 

Instead, she noted: “We got this.” 

We, being Laura and God. 

Laura was referring to the truth she realized once she was in the program: the only way to a new beginning, to patient endurance, to overcome old patterns of thinking, was to recognize that Laura could not overcome addiction alone. 

She needed the ‘we’. 

She needed God. 

She needed community.

Words fail to capture the truly spine-tingling joy of partnering with the courageous residents of Shepherd’s Door when life-changing awakenings like this are lived out or spoken in our midst. God grants revelation to women who are humbly willing to surrender all. 

They begin to see and think in new ways. 

And we are blessed to be the witnesses to life transformation.

The Gift of Ministry

This is not because we are gifted, but because we have been so gifted by God to carry out the ministry entrusted to us

Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earthy; for in these things I delight, says the Lord.  ~Jeremiah 9:24; RSV

God transforms lives. 

We assist in the process. 

He does not need us to accomplish His purposes. He invites us to participate in and through Him in the noble work of loving people into wholeness. We listen. We counsel. 

We pray. 

We love. 

We do what He has called and empowered us to do. 

Then we stand back in awe as the unleashed power of the Holy Spirit restores broken hearts and shapes new identities.

The Thanksgiving of Grace

At Thanksgiving tables, we thank God for shelter, food, family and friends…and rightly so, as He provides-often above and beyond daily needs. 

But may we also thank Him for lavishing us with His grace that we might be the ambassadors of that grace to the wounded, the broken and the marginalized. 

May we thank Him for equipping us with words, compassion, and wisdom by which to offer pathways to hope for the hopeless. 

May we thank Him for seeking and saving the lost. 

May we thank Him for relentless love that transfers those trapped in darkness into His marvelous light. 

May we thank Him for standing at the window patiently watching for the return of the prodigal.

 And may our thanks translate into praise. 

Let us glory in this: we know who He is and He is able.

This Thanksgiving, Will you praise God with us that we have the opportunity to give love to lost and hurting?