In Trial or Ease, in Want or Plenty, Give Thanks
Give Thanks to the Lord
Thanksgiving through tragedy and trial
It is early morning, the day before Thanksgiving. I just poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down to scan my email and facebook page and catch up, and now I find myself humbled and blessed by the people I know who are in the midst of trial, tragedy, heart ache and blessing too. All are giving thanks.
What I saw first this morning were posts from two people who have gone through unimaginable tragedy in the last year and a half. One lost his wife after a long battle with cancer, and one having lost a precious son in the prime of his life. Both are facing their second holiday season without their dear ones. I can't fathom the magnitude of their sorrow as I have never lost anyone that close to me. They will tell you they are not strong people, they don't care to have people be inspired by them because it still hurts so very badly, and in some ways still feel very broken. They will direct you to the Lord for the inspiration (fittingly) as He is the one who has held them through it all. When their worlds were shattered, God was there and continues to give them strength to get through ever hour.
The gentleman posted a picture of a new ornament for his Christmas tree - an angle (really beautiful) and was expressing thanks and ended his post with words of missing his beloved. The mother had a short post, marveling at the wonder and beauty of cranberries soaking in sugar water. This was followed by another post -
"Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God has done. ...
Count your many blessings, count them one by one....
Count your many blessings see what God has done!
Woke up with the memory of my mom singing this over and over...great way to start the day!"
This friend often will quote lyrics to hymns and Scriptures that are speaking to her, and I know in those moments God has given her a treasure of His love to give her strength and hope she does not possess on her own, on a day that may be extremely difficult. These two friends lost the people most dear in the lives and they still see and cherish God's amazing love in the small things. I would propose that these are not, in fact, small things at all, because nothing God gives is small.
Next I saw a post by a friend who is back east caring for her ailing mother. She left her job and home here on the west coast over the summer to move in with and care for her mother who had a stroke. She misses, I am sure, her very rich network of friends and family, especially her little granddaughter who is the apple of her eye, and her church family. Every morning, regardless of how cold and inclement the weather, she sits on the porch with her first cup of coffee and has her devotions. Every morning she shares a Scripture or a spiritual insight from her devotional, or simply a word of gratitude. This morning the winds and the rains were raging, the temperatures cold, and yet she had her devotions faithfully under the overhang of the porch. We don't hear the worry about her mother, her loneliness, the fear of an uncertain future. What we hear are the precious and sacred revelations God gives her every day to sustain her and give her hope. I am so grateful she has found a place of refuge and strength on that little porch in Cape Cod.
My 21 year old son wrote at 12 a.m. this morning, "It's nice to just sit down and eat with my dad." They have seen some very hard times this past year. For my son to find gratitude in such a seemingly small thing is not a small thing at all.
I was bowled over by a post from an article in an online publication, Charisma Magazine. The image was of a group of Philippine believers standing in knee high water worshiping the Lord just three days after the devastating typhoon. There is clapping and hand raising. Certainly these are the sacrifices of Thanksgiving. The joy of the Lord is their strength through this tragic time.
As I am writing all this, the words of Jeremiah resound in my heart -
"This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lam. 3:21-24).
This truth echoes through the people I write about today. They have found strength and hope in God's new mercies many a morning.
My Grandson Christopher
Things we take for granted
Drought or fertile?
Past hardships make us appreciate more
One dear friend gave her day 26 gratitude for the month - Day 26: "So thankful for water - hot and cold. For two months in 1968 I was without water, snowed in, with three small kids (one a new baby). I had to melt snow to get a little bit of dirty water. I've never taken the convenience of water in the house for granted again. For many in the world it's not a reality or even a possibility."
Someone commented back - "I remember when I first bought my house in the country and the old well dried up. We showered at the state park all summer and toted 5 gallon jugs of water home for dishes and cooking etc. Till the new well was dug. I appreciate running water and flushing toilets still today."
I remember back in the late 90's we had an ice storm here in the Pacific Northwest. We were out of power for 8 days in my neighborhood and all our water came from a well. With the pump being electric, however, we could not get water. My son and his young wife and little daughter were visiting. All totaled there were 8 of us in the house. No flushing toilet (we were on spetic too) and no running water. This was culture shock for my daughter-in-law who was a city girl from Southern California. The toilet issue was difficult for us all, but you could see the horror on her face. Thankfully, the Lord gave us snow to use as water for flushing, but it was hard and compact and of course it takes a lot of snow to make enough water for the bare basics. Fortunately, my husband and I had saved water in bottles and jugs for drinking and cooking for just such emergencies, and it greatly helped, but no way did we have an adequate supply. Finally on the 8th day the power kicked on. My kids, daughter-in-law included, bee-lined a trail to the bathroom, elbowing each other, all wanting to be the one to do the honors. My husband and I stood in the kitchen wondering what all the hoopla was about. Then we heard it - the sweet sound of a flushing toilet. There was a lot of gratitude that day. I still appreciate running water and flushing toilets, but not often enough.
In recent years I went two years without a car. I live in a rural area and the nearest public transportation is about 17 miles away. My financial affairs were pretty bleak. Finally, a friend gave me an old VW Rabbit from 1982. It was on it's last leg but it got me around okay. I then got a job in which I would need reliable transportation. The day after I signed on to work the car when kaput. It was unsalvageable. I was distraught. How could I work? Long story short, about a month later a missionary friend from Thailand contacted me and said they would like to give me their 2004 Toyota Scion. If I could get down to California I could pick it up and it was mine. God so blessed me and I can't say how grateful I am.
When my grandson Christopher was a baby his dad (my son) was stationed in Panama through the military. His wife and three children joined him. Little Christopher became gravely ill. I got a call from my weeping son saying they didn't think he'd make it through the night, that the medical care and hospital were substandard and he was too ill to be moved. We needed a miracle. We got one. Christopher will be celebrating his 20th birthday in January. He has residual arthritis in many of his joints. He had another little health scare a couple of years ago. Chris has had a hard life, circumstances I can't go into. But he is a hard working young man and never complains. I am so deeply thankful that God spared his life. I don't take the lives of my children and grandchildren for granted. I have three grandsons who are all adopted. Their lives could have been very different. But thanks be to God, He gave them to my son (a different one) and daughter-in-law to raise and nurture in the ways of the Lord. I have five granddaughters and eight grandsons all together. I cherish each one.
My greatest 2013 blessing
In want and in plenty - Give thanks
The grateful Apostle
I think one of the most expressively grateful people in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. For all intents and purposes he had little to be grateful for in they eyes of men. He was a man who suffered much for the cause of the gospel,
"...in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles,in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea,in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides other things..." (2 Cor. 11:23-28).
But in spite of all of his sufferings he also said,
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philip. 4:11-13).
And, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess. 5:18).
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!
Got heat? Give thanks
What do you take for granted that you want to give thanks for?
There are people throughout the world who suffer deprivation in a variety of ways - food, water, sanitation, safety, clothing, transportation, freedom in all things, Bibles, the gospel, medical help, and so much more. I recently saw a video of some Chinese Christian's who were seeing and receiving Bibles for the very first time of their lives. They were jumping with joy, then weeping, then a holy hush fell upon the room and they quietly wept while kissing their Bibles Do we cherish our Bibles this way? Not likely because we take for granted our three on the shelf collecting dust. This week I read of the continued imprisonment of Saeed Abedini in the most dangerous prison in Iran. There are many more Christians who are being imprisoned, tortured and slaughtered for their faith in Christ. In Africa there is genocide and heinous violence going on for innocent citizens. The Philippines is seeking to recover from a devastating typhoon. Many families will be missing loved ones at their tables because of mass shootings in America. Our own country is a mess right now. We are rapidly losing our religious freedoms and well as other kinds.
No matter what we American's have gone through as individuals and as a nation, God deserves thanksgiving for what we do have. Most importantly, God deserves all glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving for our salvation through Jesus Christ. Will you join me in a prayer of thanks?
We do not have enough words or adequate words to express our thanks for everything in life. We thank you Father, for giving us Your Son through your grace, and for our salvation. We pray for those in the world today who are suffering in ways we cannot fathom. We ask that you bring them comfort, strength, and deliverance. We are sorry for the way we take all things for granted here in America and forget about others around the world. Give us hearts that would be mindful and compassionate of the suffering of others and be willing to do whatever we have of our abundance and ourselves to others, even if it's a cup of cold water. Lord, help us to learn kindness and love. There is so little in our world. Help us to see life and the world through Your eyes. Thank you Lord for your unfailing love, your mercies which are new every morning, and Your faithfulness.
In Jesus name, Amen!
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© 2013 Lori Colbo