Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

What does it mean to be thankful? That is something that is heavy on my heart the past few days.  As we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving, it is something I think all of us should be thinking about.  Someone challenged me to do this thirty day challenge on Facebook.  That is, for around thirty days I have been attempting to come up with something each day to be thankful for.  Doesn't sound too hard does it?  The first few days didn't require much thought at all.  It was easy to come up with a blessing.  I could just look around at some relationship I had, some thing I had been given, some good event that was in my life.   All of these were evident and stood out.  After twenty days though, I began to have to spend more time thinking of something to be thankful for.

Tomorrow's reading for Thanksgiving reminds us of the ten lepers who had a great deal to be thankful for.  These men had been ostracized from community.  They were in pain and diseased.  Their family and friends probably didn't get to come close to them for fear of catching the disease.  They could have been friends, brothers, sons, fathers, uncles. Jesus healed them.  On their way to see the priest they were completely cured of their disease.  Only one of them returned to see Jesus.  Only one truly went to the priest and showed himself clean. The others sought God when they needed him, once cured they ran off to live their lives. 

How often do we do that ourselves?  We give thanks for the good, but we ignore the bad.  We seek God when we have needs.  Then when everything is going smoothly we don't have time for all that religious stuff.  When I first had my back surgery I was very disappointed.  Here I was, a relatively young man, having almost my entire spine fused.  I prayed to God that I wouldn't have to do it.  I still did.  I got a little upset later, because I was now bedridden for quite some time.   I had to have a brace on just to sit up.  My wife had to help me to the bathroom.  Help me take sponge baths.  Help me do just about everything.  At first I couldn't even have wrinkles in the sheets. My back hurt so bad the slightest fold in the fabric would bring me to tears.  My wife patiently stood by my side and helped me through this time.

If you had asked me then are you thankful for your surgery?  I would have become angry.  The thing is, I was one of the nine.   I wasn't thankful for what God had given me.  This surgery was a gift that I could not see.  So I went off to do my own thing.  I can look back now and see how much of a blessing this was.  Sure, sometimes I can't put my shoes on myself.   Some days I can barely bend over and someone has to hand me things off the floor.  Some days I have to have help taking my shirt off.  I still find that wrinkles in the sheets can cause me some pretty intense discomfort.  How can I be thankful for this? 

As a result of my surgery I was able to watch my daughter take her first steps.  I got to spend time with her.  I got to teach her.  I got to hold her when she got her first scrape.  I got to watch as her sisters taught her to ride a bike.  I got to watch them go through their firsts too.  I got to change diapers.  More diapers than I ever wanted to see.  I got to see my nieces, Liaden and Fianna, go through some of their firsts. I got to spend time with all of their siblings that I would not have been able to do otherwise.  I have been able to spend time studying, lead bible studies, prayer groups, faith sessions, and even hope to become a Deacon.   All of these things I might not have been able to do because of something I did not see as a blessing. 

What about you?  Are there things going on right now that seem like a curse?  Things that aren't going the way you want them to?  Are you thankful for them? It's not too late.  I too need to look at my life and ask, where have I not given thanks?  Then, like the one foreigner, glorify God in a loud voice; and fall at the feet of Jesus and thank him.

His servant and yours,