Turkeys and cranberry sauce; creamy mashed potatoes and raisin stuffing. The fragrance of freshly baked rolls and pies wafting through the warmth of the house. Thanksgiving is coming…a glorious reminder to stop and count the many blessings we enjoy.
But one day is not enough! The Apostle Paul tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
He doesn’t tell us to give thanks FOR all things. I don’t thank God that my friend has incurable, untreatable cancer. But I do thank Him that He is with my friends and will guide them on this new journey. I didn’t thank Him for my first husband’s diagnosis of end stage liver disease. But I thanked Him for the love my husband and I shared, the years we had together, and the ways He showed His love and care during Jerry’s illness and subsequent death.
A thankful attitude is a choice which can be developed, starting with small things. It runs the gamut from stretch fabrics to a good medical report; from another year of life to the joy of another baby born into the family.
When a colleague wrote, telling me she was angry that terminal illness had entered Jerry’s and my lives because we were “good people,” I was able to respond with thankfulness. I told her that God has not promised we would be exempt from trouble and pain; but He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And He never did. When I cried out for help, He lifted me with hope, joy, and peace that were clearly not from my own inner strength. By His grace I was renewed day by day. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
How do I respond to those who are undergoing severe trials? I can’t promise that God will deal with them in the same way He did with me; I can’t promise a positive outcome. My friend Constance Plett expressed it well on her facebook page when she said:
“I am grateful, when I feel helpless listening to the news, that God knows places like Liberia, Senegal, Nigeria and every single individual and family affected by the Ebola virus. That their suffering and passing is not lost on Him because He created every single one down to the last cell.
I am grateful that the PROMISE MAKER is the PROMISE KEEPER.
* I will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:16
* I know what I have planned for you. Jeremiah 29:11
* I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. Psalm 32:8
* I will guard your going out and your coming in. Psalm 121:8
*I go and prepare a place for you… (and) … will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3″
In any circumstance, I can choose to be thankful, knowing my God knows the Way (MY way too); and is the Truth and the Life. How have you developed an attitude of thanksgiving in your life?