On the fourth Thursday of November, those in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday set aside to remember to give thanks to God for all our blessings. But we really need to remember that every day is a day for thanksgiving unto the Lord. This is what the Bible says:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NKJV)
The key words here are "in everything". It doesn't mean for just the good things that happen to us, but also for the not-so-good. It is easy to thank God for the good blessings, but we also need to thank Him for our difficult times as well. In every instance where something not so good has happened, we can still be thankful, because if we look closely enough, we can see that the problem could have been worse.
Twenty years ago, while working with a team of volunteers to build a kitchen at Red Bird Mission in Kentucky, the man next to me from New Jersey suffered a direct hit on his thumb with a framing hammer. With tears running down his face, he yelled, "Thank You, Lord! Praise the Lord!" several times. I had to admit that if it had happened to me, I would probably have used different words. So I asked him why he said what he did. His answer was, "I was thanking God because I had a thumb to hit. I know folks who don't have a hand or an arm with a thumb to hit." This has had a lasting effect on my reactions when something bad happens.
Speed forward eighteen years to April 9, 2009, when an F3 tornado touched down in Polk County and Mena, Arkansas. Our home was extensively damaged. We lost part of the roof, two rooms, windows, and siding. It destroyed our stable, dog kennels, four outbuildings, our shop, our greenhouse, our barn, and a mile of fencing. Over 800 trees, including many 200-year-old oak trees, were uprooted. When we exited the storm shelter, which we had entered only ten minutes earlier, and saw the devastation that the tornado had caused in the eight seconds that the 200-mile-an-hour winds took to pass through our farm, my first thought was about the man who had hit his thumb. I thanked God that my wife and I were not killed or injured. After locating all the animals and finding them alive and only slightly injured in some cases, I also thanked God for sparing them. I was thankful for the blessings brought by our church and a host of others whom we did not know as we worked to clean up the mess, which required over a year to complete. As I travelled through the city and saw where folks had suffered even more damage than I did and thought about the three people who had lost their lives and the twenty and more who were hospitalized, I again thought about the comments made by the volunteer working beside me twenty years before. It was a lesson I'll never forget. When bad things happen, we can thank God because we can always see where the situation could have been worse.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we have so very much for which to be thankful. Each day is a gift from You. Help us to remember every day to thank You for everything: the good and the not-so-good. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.