Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 18; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
In the craziness of what’s happening around us, in the pain that is deep inside us–it’s hard to think about being Thankful! And it’s even harder to BE Thankful! This morning I was sitting on the front porch, listening to my Morning Worship playlist, and still–I was really struggling to BE Thankful. Four years ago my Mother died and this year my Daddy died. And for the first time in my 66 years, I won’t be spending Thanksgiving Day with him. For the first time, I won’t be in his home with the rest of the family for Thanksgiving Day.
Then the Tribe that I’ve belonged to for those same 66 years has left me behind–and I am leaving them. One more thing, I have good friends who long to leave this diseased United Methodist Church–but their congregations failed to garner enough votes to leave, are satisfied with the status quo, or simply chose not to think about leaving. Such is Thanksgiving Day, the twenty-fourth day of November, 2022 for me. Can I be honest with you, the reader? It’s a struggle to be Thankful. Now don’t you go dare and tell me of all Jesus has done for me. I am aware of all He’s done for me. Still . . . I’m struggling right now.
Then good ol’ Paul tells me this morning these words: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Come on, Paul! Cut me some slack here! If you only had known what this morning feels like to me–surely you would have written this. What were you thinking when you wrote these words? Just now, the Holy Spirit leaned in and whispered, “Randy, that’s a great question! It’s the perfect question! Now answer your own question. This should be an easy one for you, after all. What was Paul thinking?”
I can’t speak for you, but there are moments when I despise how the Holy Spirit speaks to me. Why? Because He brings back to me the right perspective on life–even when it’s crazy. And even when it hurts. Sometimes I just want to be angry and wallow around in my pain. Lord knows I have plenty of reasons to do so! Maybe I’m the only who in this whole wide world who has ever felt this way. Back to that probing question from the Holy Spirit. What was Paul thinking?
My ESPN isn’t working this morning; all I can go by is what Paul went through–and how he responded to those difficult times. In one particular situation, Paul was desperate to get rid of what he called “a thorn in the flesh”. (You can read the passage here) Not once, not twice, but three times Paul wanted to get rid of it. And each time he asked God to remove it–God had the same answer: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Amazing, isn’t it? How that God always has an answer? And that His answer NEVER changes?
So, I will once again change my perspective. Notice I wrote “once again“; it’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last time–well, here on earth. Though I am angered at the chaos filling my “soon-to-be-former Tribe”, and though I am so sad not to be at Daddy’s house today–I Choose To Be Thankful! Not for what’s happening all around me and the things I’m feeling inside me–but for WHO is living inside me. And right now I am experiencing His—His—trying to find another way to say it. But there’s really no other way to say it. I am experiencing His Amazing Grace! And my prayer for you is that today—-and every day, as far as that goes—-that you experience His Amazing Grace. It really is all I need. And it’s all you need.