Giving Thanks In All Things

Giving Thanks In All Things

Giving Thanks In All Things

I write a Thanksgiving blog every year. But I have a confession to make:  this year’s blog was a hard one for me to write.  To be honest, it’s been a pretty rough year.  My mom died unexpectedly in July.  Then in October my dad learned that his lung cancer had returned.  Needless to say, both of these things are still weighing heavy on my heart. It would be easy for me to make excuses, right?  To give myself a free pass.  But that’s not God’s way.  No, God challenges us to give thanks “always and for everything.”  Eph 5:20.  Even though early Christians were facing terrible persecution, Paul urged them—and us—to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God…”  1 Th. 5:18.  God is honored by our thanks, especially when we’re willing to express it in the midst of life’s hardships. It may not be easy, but that’s what I’m going to try to do in today’s blog. My mom has only been gone for two and a half months.  Slowly but surely I’m working my way through the grieving process.  But I can give God thanks by celebrating the life she lived. I can say this much with absolute confidence:  I am the man I am today because of my mom’s love and patience.  My mom was my biggest cheerleader.  Whatever I did, whether it was school, or career, or my work in ministry, she was always an encourager.  More than that, she was a woman of genuine faith.  Believers are challenged not only to know God’s word, but to live it out—to live a life “worthy of the gospel.”  Phil. 1:27.  Mom did that, and seeing her faith in action had a profound effect on me.  I remember my mom’s gentle strength and her passion for prayer.  Even as a grown man, I would share prayer needs with her knowing she would faithfully commit to pray for them. The truth is I see mom’s fingerprints all over my life, and I thank God for every one of them! The story of my dad’s cancer goes back 17 years.  After having surgery that removed half of his lung, he was cancer-free.  But he faced a new bout of cancer about a year ago.  We were encouraged to hear that he was a candidate for a new cancer treatment—an intense and precisely-targeted form of radiation.  It looked to us like the treatment may have been successful.  But last month we were told that the cancer was back and had begun to spread. You may be wondering:  how is it possible to be thankful in circumstances like that?  It’s a struggle, I’ll admit.  But even as we face this newest challenge, I can see God’s hand. I’ve always heard that a tragedy can either tear a family apart or bind it together.  I’m thankful that God is using my dad’s illness to make our family stronger.  The shock really hasn’t worn off yet, but I’m already seeing us pull together.  My dad has always been a strong man. And with every doctor visit I see his strength on full display.  But he’s not in this thing alone.  Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, along with their husbands and wives, are rallying in support.  I know the house must be quiet now that mom is gone.  I hope that whenever he feels alone, he’ll be comforted by our love and by the power of our prayers. Why am I thankful?  I’m thankful that in times of trial and trouble, God sends friends and loved ones who can comfort us and refresh our spirits.  I pray that in the days ahead we can be an encouragement to dad and that he, in turn, can be an encouragement to us. I’ll sign off with this thought:  the truth is, thanksgiving is really a form of worship.  What I mean is that we don’t give thanks because our life is going good, but because He is good.  Six different times the psalmist tells us to “give thanks to God, for he is good.”  My prayer for you is that you’ll remember His goodness, and then, like the psalmist, that you’ll respond with thanksgiving!