Thankful

Regardless of the denomination of church you grew up in, you can finish the repeat-inducing phrase,

“God is good . . . . . ” (All the time!)
“. . and all the time. . . ” (God is good!)

Don’t miss the word all.

If you truly believe the words in that phrase, then God is indeed still a good God, even in adversity.  I believe that our family has learned to embrace that truth over the past ninety days.

Testing of our faith produces endurance, and knowing that God is testing our faith through trials are to bring joy (paraphrased/rearranged version of James 1:2-3).

I am honestly trying to move ever closer to the “joy” part of that exhortation, but find myself in more of a contentment in my Savior state most of the time.  Gripping to a faith in knowing that His ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8) even when I can’t seem to find that state of joy with both hands and a flashlight.

So, while I am in this seemingly endless quest for pure joy that only God can provide, I am thankful.

Thankful for material things – yes.  Mainly because I love to eat, stay warm and dry, read books, and whip my 12-year old at Madden (he’s gaining ground every day – even eked out a win a week or so ago).

Thankful for family – absolutely.  Christian parents; a beautiful, Godly wife whom the last 90 days would have been unbearable without; and four wonderful children, three still with us.

Thankful for friends.  While my circle of acquaintances is more vast than I realized before losing our son, my small circle of those I trust and consider true confidants and brothers is very dear to me and essential in navigating through both the storms and calm waters of life.

But, I am chiefly thankful for a relationship with the very being that created the heavens and earth; that breathed life into Adam’s nostrils, and that cares how many hairs are on my head (easier to count on some than on others, admittedly).  And, I don’t want to be caught as simply expectant on God’s provisions.

In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus encounters 10 men that are living with what is likely leprosy.  It is the go-to disease in the time period that Jesus walks, and He runs in to many throughout his travels that are living with this incurable affliction.  These 10 cry out for mercy, and Jesus grants them healing instantaneously.

However, only one – only one! – returned to not only thank Jesus but give Him the glory for healing his disease.  The other nine were healed no less miraculously, but chose to walk away.

I wonder what their attitude was for their ingratitude?  Were they embarrassed to just say “thanks?”  Were they expectant on the healing, and then moved on when they got what they asked for?

I don’t think God expects us to thank Him for every green light during holiday traffic, every penny found on heads, or every time our sinus drainage lasts three days instead of six.  But, to walk away from blessings as if God owes us something in the first place; or to wait on the calendar (i.e., Thanksgiving Day blogs) to dictate our gratitude shows a spoiled, first-world attitude that smacks of indifference – the very state of being that makes God sick (Revelation 3:16).

So, I pray that I am in a constant state of gratitude, knowing that God’s grace and mercy are the only things standing between me and a life on earth of pointless misery (or, as it was put in O Brother, Where Art Thou, a “life of aimless wanderin'”) and an eternal destination of deserved torment.

Seth and Bessie Sykes, married traveling evangelists in the U.K. in the early 20th century coined another recognizable church staple that sums it both simply and fully at the same time:

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free

He indeed is the provider of my eternal salvation.
He heals my wounds, no matter how deep, and restores me.
He freely gave it, when not only did I not deserve it, but it wasn’t required of Him.
And there is no comparison to the value of the gift.

For all of that and much more, I can say

Thank you, Lord.

He truly is good. . . .
All.  The.  Time.

“Giving thanks always for everything
to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-Ephesians 5:20

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