“Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 ESV)
Thanksgiving is next week! It came quickly this year for me; I’ve been in recovery mode and not looking too closely at the calendar. I am looking forward to having family here for the long weekend, and for the wonderful meal (and leftovers). Of course, this time of year is not just for eating and visiting with family and friends, but also for being thankful. I love that Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season – it’s a great frame of reference before getting into Advent Season (aka Expecting), especially for believers. We can be thankful – and expecting great things to come.
I am thankful, I really am. But I’m not thankful for everything. I am not thankful for tragedies, wars, brokenness, evil and sin, sickness, disease, hunger, thirst, slavery and poverty, depression, loneliness and hurting, and many other things. I don’t have to be thankful that some people I love are suffering and struggling. I don’t have to be thankful for a little thing (in comparison), like breaking a bone in my foot while recovering from foot surgery (thus extending my time of recovery). I don’t even have to see the bright side of these things, although sometimes brokenness in our lives can possibly help us to empathize with and comfort those who struggle with brokenness in their lives. Sometimes God redeems the hard times in some way.
But – and I love the Bible passage above – I will give thanks in all circumstances, because I live with a good, all-powerful, gracious, mysterious God who loves, who lives in me and others and is all around at the same time. He who is with us wherever we go is the one and only God in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), with whom we can communicate (praying and listening). I am thankful in the fact that I can breathe and move, that I love and have others who love me, that I can see and hear, that I can read his amazing Word, that I can be used by God to change the world. And in bad circumstances, with God, I can have joy, even if it’s hard to see it sometimes.
I also am thankful for many other things. This past season of being laid up while my foot has been healing from surgery has been a unique one for me. I’ve never been the recipient of longer-term caregiving; I’ve never even broken a bone before. I am thankful for my family, who took care of me at much inconvenience to them. (We joked that we should make t-shirts that said, “Hey, while you’re up…” since that was something I said often.) I am thankful for the friends who brought us delicious meals, those who came over to visit, as well as those who sent flowers and thoughtful cards. I’ve found that yes, it’s better to give than to receive, but receiving is pretty great, too! People are very kind. I go back to work this week, and am thankful I’ll get to see my co-workers and customers, whom I’ve missed. I’m thankful that I was able to be kind of mobile with a scooter, not having to use crutches after that first difficult weekend – so that I could do some of the fun activities I would have missed otherwise. I appreciate the people who brought me places, lifting that hefty scooter into the car. I am thankful for modern medicine so I wasn’t in too much pain. I am thankful that this season of laying low is mostly over, but also thankful for all the good books I’ve read, the good movies I’ve seen, for my cuddly animals who have mysterious healing powers, for all the beautiful Fall weather and colors I experienced out my window, and for the ability to rest.
What are you thankful for today? What circumstances are challenging for you – and in what ways can you be thankful in them?
“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7 NLT)
Kelly can be reached via email.