When’s the last time you offered a heart felt “nank you”? Honestly, you’ve probably never said “nank you”, or at least not since you were 3 years old. That’s how Jude, my almost 3 year old girl, prays these days. This is a typical rendition of her prayer, “God, Nank You for Daddy and Mommy, and nank You for their daughter, Jude, and nank You for Peter and Preston, and nank You for pon-pones (long gone cat), and nank You for Doc & Pepper (the dogs) & Daisy (the dog our parents graciously took in before the move), and….nank You for ME!” Then she always ends with a really loud, southern “AMEN!” She may vary a little by leaving one of us out or adding in someone else or church or friends, but…..she never fails to mention herself at least twice.
Now, you might be thinking it’s cute but it could become a little self-absorbed to let her continue to pray that way all the time, but I say as long as she is saying “nank You”, say it as many times as you want, baby. She loves life!! I want her to thank Him for it! As she gets older, she will learn to incorporate the needs of others as well as her own. But, right now, she isn’t really in need and she’s naturally thankful. Talk about “out of the mouths of babes”.
Down deep in most of us, we are thankful for another day of life. We just fail to show it. I don’t know about you but I get far too easily frustrated and enough days of that I can appear purely disgruntled. It sometimes takes real tragedy or some type of wake-up call for us to get to a place where others to see how we appreciate life and those in it. I have to admit, reading news on children battling cancer or other illness or the sudden loss of a spouse that’s around my age always makes me more patient and loving with my own children….and more appreciative of every day that I am allowed to wake up and be a mom and wife. How quickly we can get into the “woe is me” mode, though. So, let me just stop right now and list a few things I’m thankful to God for. I think I’ll follow in Jude’s example and first say, “Nank you for me!” I AM thankful that He gave me life and that He faithfully guides me through it when I call on Him; Thankful for the ability to laugh; for wise cracks that bring smiles; for the belly laugh of babies; for the sound of a baseball that’s hit well; for taste buds……AMEN?! Watermelon, cheese, peppers? Anybody else? I’m thankful for beautiful blue skies and colorful sunsets and the soothing sound of rolling thunder! I’m thankful for the gift of relationships, even the ones I have with our silly dogs! How much more thankful I am for the relationship of brothers, sisters, cousins, and true friends.
Some skeptics or even some struggling believers would say, “Sure, you’re thankful!…look at your life! You live in sunny California, have three beautiful children, a husband that loves you and would do anything for you, and friends and family galore. What about people like me who don’t have that kind of life? Or, what about those who live horrible lives… who are abused, who lose children, suffer through illness, who are oppressed, starving, etc. How am I to be thankful? How are they?” To which I would say, “You are right…I am SOOO blessed. But, I am not naïve enough to think that my life could not be turned upside down tomorrow if it is in His plan for my life. You pose legitimate questions….are you willing to discuss some answers?” This goes straight to the root of a fundamental theological issue that creates HUGE stumbling blocks for believers in their faith and non-believers in their acceptance.
Let’s just go on and open up this big ole can of worms, keeping in mind that I can only share with you what He has taught me and He still has a lot of work to do with me. So, if it helps……give Him the credit. If not or if it only causes more confusion….that would be my fault. The root questions here are really, “If God is good or if He is sovereign, how could He: Make me this way? Allow me to be born into this situation? Not deliver me from this situation? Allow that person to go on hurting others?, etc.
See, told you it was a can of worms. Let me give you my own personal disclaimer that I certainly don’t have all the answers to the mysteries of God and neither I, nor anyone else knows exactly how we would react until put to the test. But, I did promise at the creation of this blog that we were going to dig some roots. So, here we go!
I can only tell you what I HOPE my response would be in unthinkable circumstances. For example, I think in young families, our worst fears are that we’d outlive our babies or lose our spouse. If the Lord allows something like that in my young life (or now almost mid-life), though mixed with my grief, I hope at some point I would be able to say, “Thanks be to my God for loaning me this precious soul for the time that He did.” I do know that will only come out on that day if I am intentionally trying to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness in my heart TODAY. That, along with an awareness of the fact that this life is so short and because His Word tells me that death can NOT take them from HIS grip, I know I would still have eternity to look forward to with them.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers; neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALL CREATION will be able to separate us from the love of God…..that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:38-39)
There’s the Word….allowed to take root, its fruit is peace.
As I heard Priscilla Shirer say once, “when you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice….in the same way when we’re squeezed, what’s on the inside comes out of us, too!” As believers , our orange juice, so to speak, must be gratitude. Take for example the latest prayer chain I’ve seen on facebook, “Bringing home the Browns”. A husband and wife, Heather and John Brown, had been trying for 7 years to get pregnant and finally, it happens! Shortly after, John, a police officer in the Army reserves is deployed to Afghanistan. Only, he’s just there about a month when he receives news that Heather, 34 weeks pregnant, was in the hospital and they had to take the baby. He rushes home to find that Heather had developed pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and toxemia of pregnancy) that caused her to have seizures and quickly put her into a coma and they had to deliver the baby by c-section. John has been posting updates to facebook that are not what you would think someone in his circumstances would say. They aren’t filled with pain and questions, though the family must be in tremendous turmoil. The posts are filled with hope and thanksgiving…. for the baby boy, John, that is now at home from the NICU, and for improvements seen in Heather who is still in a coma. Orange juice all the way. (If you are a facebooker, “like” his family’s page, “Bringing home the Browns” and keep them in prayer, please).
I guess what I am trying to say here is that our lives are meant to glorify God in all circumstances, whether in blessing or affliction and whether we are thrust into affliction or born into it. I would dare to say that He is closest to us in our affliction and when we seek Him through it, that is when He is most glorified through us. My life can’t glorify Him unless I can thank Him for it.....always! Especially is seasons of blessing. Being keenly aware of and thankful for His provision fine tunes our vision to see His hand on our lives so, when the trial comes, and it will, we can hold fast to His presence and promises, thanking Him all the while.....because we know He is good! Now, we’ve only skimmed the surface here. Earlier, we hinted at some much deeper questions that I’d like to tackle, but, I have to remember, this is a blog, not a book! J Another day, another blog. We will get to them as they seem to be searing a hole in me for some reason. For now, I will leave you with some passages to ponder on thanksgiving! They may not be new to you but revisiting them has certainly been beneficial to me. What have you forgotten to tell Him “nank You” for lately?
p.s. If this is any indication of how much this topic has been sinking into me over the last year or so....these are the songs I want at my funeral, should I have an abrupt end to this earthly life:)
1. Blessed Assurance - preferably played on the organ by Mr. Billy Joe King, from Mercer, if available. If not.....whoever can do the song justice!
2. Thanks Be to Our God by Travis Cottrell - doubt he'll be available to sing at funerals but doesn't hurt to ask. I am going to be worshipping along with his singing at the Beth Moore conference tomorrow night! woohoo! .....So, i know he won't be available this weekend!:) and
3. Celebrate Good Times by Kool & the Gang :)
2 Corinthians 4:13-17 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase THANKSGIVING , to the GLORY of GOD. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Philippians 4:6-9 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
James 1:2-4;12 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing; Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.