I have dear friends in Jasper, Alabama who are thankful that their daughter survived a surgery the outcome of which, at this time yesterday, doctors were very unsure. I have a friend in another state who is thankful that her husband has come back to the Lord and is finished with the lifestyle that was destroying their family. There are people I love who are thankful for employment after months of being without the income on which they depended. There’s a family in our congregation that’s praising God because of medical scans showing that their son is now cancer-free.
But for every one I know who’s rejoicing about good news, I know someone who has gotten a negative report. I know families who are without employment and who have mourned even this week beside open graves. I know wives who suspect infidelity during this holiday season, on the part of their husbands. I know families currently being ravaged by the sin of gambling or drunkenness or drug abuse. I know a husband who is spending his first Thanksgiving without his wife who went this year, at a young age, to be with the Lord.
So how is it that we bow our heads on this and every day with thanksgiving when our lives are so vulnerable to heartache; when we know that our days are few and “full of trouble” (Job 14:1)?
It is precisely because our days on earth are few that we can give thanks in all circumstances. It is because as the old spiritual says, “Soon I will be done with the troubles of the world…I’m going home to live with God!” God is good, all the time. But it is in the difficult days that we recognize dependence. It is in the sin-darkened days that we learn to hate the devil. It is in the times of sickness and pain that we long for heaven. There’s no triumph without the trial.
I’m thinking, as I write, about the hardest times of my life. Take the time this day to think about your most difficult days. Try to list the top three most challenging days of your life. I can think of mine without much difficulty. As I think of them, I can still feel the pain. But I am separated by years today from all three of those days. And, most importantly, there are some extremely valuable lessons I have taken from each of them. I am better equipped to serve the Lord, I believe, because of the darkest spots in my life. So I praise Him on this good day for the other days…days I really don’t want to remember.
I hope you will take the time to thank Him today for the bounty, the beauty and the blessings. They are all around you. I hope you will remember, even briefly today, those things you’d rather forget…and praise Him for them, too. He is good. All the time.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Phil. 4:11-13)