In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I’m just a natural curmudgeon. Oh, many folks around here think of me as a jolly old elf (or whatever–my belly doesn’t shake like a bowl full of jelly, but I do–now–have a white beard and despite my curmudgeonly nature, I laugh a lot and manage to bring chuckles or even outright guffaws to no few folks), but I am a curmudgeon.
I see a glass with water and I don’t think of it as half full OR half empty. I just wonder which politician stole part of it and spit in the rest.
Trust but verify? Notachance. Look askance and test for validity (not so much a cynical outlook as a suspicious and skeptical one). Trust must be earned.
So, Thanksgiving is a two-edged sword for me. While I have much for which I am thankful, I look every gift horse in the mouth (What? Accept a gift horse and then be responsible for its care if it turns out to be unhealthy?); I look for the hidden strings, the catches, the gotchas in everything.
But, “In every thing give thanks…” ?
I admire folks with a simple faith(fulness). Those who can honestly look at each and every situation in life and be thankful–to God–for where they are, who they are, what is going on in their lives. Such people embody the concept the Apostle Paul spoke of elsewhere:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24)
Hope? Gee, that’s a tough one, sometimes.
Brown Bannister answered the problem of being thankful in difficult situations this way, about thirty years ago,
When you’re up against a struggle
That shatters all your dreams
And your hope has been cruelly crushed
By Satan’s manifesting scheme
And you feel the urge within you
To submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in, seem to disappear
Praise the Lord
He can work with those who praise Him ,
Praise the Lord
For our God inhabits praise,
Praise the Lord
For the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise him
Others –many others–through the years have offered their answer to the problem of being thankful even in difficult times.
All things work for our good though sometimes we don’t see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two sometimes blind us to the truth.
Our Father knows what best for us; His ways are not our own. So when your pathway grows dim and you just don’t see him remember you’re never alone.
God is too wise to be mistaken;
God is to good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t his plan,
When you can’t trace his hand,
Trust his heart.
Empty platitudes? From folks whose difficult times have been circumscribed by the cocooned, cushy lives of modern Western society?
But how about this guy?
During the years of 1618-1648, Europe and especially Germany where plunged into a 30 year religious war. It was during these years that Martin Rinkart was pastor of a Lutheran church in Eilenburg, Germany. Famine and deadly diseases raged throughout the land. In 1637 Rinkart buried 4480 persons who had died of an epidemic sweeping through his city. One of the persons was his dear wife. When he writes, Ã¢â‚¬Å“guide us when perplexed,Ã¢â‚¬Å“ he is not talking about minor inconveniences. The population of Germany was reduced from 16 million to 6 million during these years. Yet, Rinkart was a faithful and caring pastor, tending to the sick and hungry. Through the grief and bloodshed he looked to his Savior, and was able to thank God for the many blessings he still had.
And what expression of Rinkert’s heart, what response to those years of affliction do we still have as witness of his thankfulness in difficult times? This:
Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices,
Who, from our mother’s arms, Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God thro’ all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, whom earth and heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
And others could offer the same sort of witness.
Kind of sets my petty gripes and such into perspective doesn’t it?
So, with “so great a cloud of witnesses” set before me, I offer my poor list of gratitude, beginning with things I might usually overlook being thankful for:
Taxes. Being taxed unfairly, irresponsibly, illegitimately by nearly all levels of government means I have the wherewithall to be taxed.
Politicians. There but for the grace of God… *heh* And they do serve as very good bad examples for folks to learn how NOT to live their lives, eh?
Academia Nut Fruitcakes. Almost a perfect example of the nearly overwhelming physical abundance of our society. A society that can afford to support such useless creatures is rich indeed!
Mass Media Podpeople. Ditto both comments above.
Slander, lies, attacks against the truth at every opportunity. All proof that there are some decent people, else why would their attackers need to resort to lies to attack them, and there is truth, else why would evil people fear it so much?
Illegal aliens: finally a simple litmus test for whether or not our political leaders are decent, honest, even remotely ethical or possessed of the ability to see truth or the stones to act on truth.
Islam. Yep. What better way to drive folks to the Church than to let them know more and more about this cult of hate and to seriously and honestly compare and contrast the truth about Islam and its hatemongering “prophet” as opposed to the Person and work of the Christ?
Too much in the way of material possessions. Yes, too much. It’s an exercise of will (a will that needs exercise to avoid flabbiness) to throw out, give away, just flat get rid of stuff we have too much of, don’t need, etc. What a blessing to need that exercise of will!
Music: not the manufactured crap the RIAA seems determined to use in an attempt to destroy our society (although I often manage to manufacture my own good from even the worst drek “music”). No, there is still great music that uplifts, harmonizes man and nature and more. Unfortunately, most of it was written (and/or performed) by people long passed away, but we have it as their legacy.
A world of wonder: almost unlimited knowledge at my fingertips; healthful foods; a plethora of clothing to choose from; a house that puts any I grew up in to shame; the beauty of the Ozarks right outside my door–all these and more.
Parents: still living, in their eighties, health failing; ties that bind.
Children: better people than I am.
My Wonder Woman. One of the greatest miracles of my life is that I approach this Thanksgiving season nearing the celebration of 29 years of her longsuffering love.
Repeating myself once again from last Thanksgiving,
Look deeply at the things you are thankful for. SOMEONE other than yourself alone is due thanks for the blessings of possessions and health, family and friends–and it ain’t you, cos no matter what lies our society tells you, neither you nor anyone else (and certainly not I) deserve all the blessings y’all have. Oh, maybe you “deserve” some, but never all.
So WHO do you say “Thank you” to?
Let me take a leap here: to the God who makes all these things blessings–the easily seen as good and the obvious trials–Thank You.
1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.–Psalm 100
Noted at the Thursday Thirteen Hub and Trackposted to Perri Nelson’s Website, Rosemary’s Thoughts, The World According to Carl, Pirate’s Cove, Stuck On Stupid, The Pink Flamingo, Big Dog’s Weblog, Chuck Adkins, Wolf Pangloss, Dumb Ox Daily News, Adeline and Hazel, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.