Songs of Thanksgiving

Sometimes thanksgiving is a discipline. When resentment comes easy, gratitude can seem out of reach. That’s when we need to try to see some purpose in our trials. Tonight, the text for our Thanksgiving Eve service (at 7:30pm in Montgomery with John Waller leading worship) is Jeremiah 30:18-22. It was written in 587 BC to encourage God’s people the next year, 586 BC, as they experienced the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem. So… this leads me to a question. Why couldn’t God just not have the whole thing happen? If He knew it would be so hard as to merit a special “book of consolation” – which is what Jeremiah 30-33 is called – then why didn’t He just skip it? Why not skip all death and destruction while we’re at it? Why not skip the cross especially? Just wave Your God-wand, Lord, and set things right.

But He won’t…ever…do this. We won’t always know why, but sometimes we can point to the fact that pain has divine purpose. It teaches and refines us. We leave its grip shaped into something of greater value to God. Shannon and I are “sandwiched,” as they say: now bound to the full-time care of my mom in our home with our kids. Many people go through much worse, but things like this feel unending, whatever the scale. This is a big part of the challenge. So, it’s never a waste of time to ask, “Why are we doing this?” Suddenly, the question leads us to think about my mom’s quality of life, as we work to help her regain what her strokes have taken from her. The grind becomes ennobled. The hours of extra time with her every day do not feel lost, but rather redeemed. Perspective, in God’s eyes, is more important than and influences experience. Thanksgiving is a holiday of perspective. May ours be changed, I pray. May we all see the divine purpose behind whatever is painful for us. Amen.

 

3 Replies to “Songs of Thanksgiving”

  1. When mom and dad moved clear across the country to live with my sister and her family it was a strange thing. Life circumstance created situations, where my parents almost felt they did not have a choice but to move away. My sister and her Husband had a very big house, and plenty of material resources to help them. Although we know there is some possibility we may, or may not, ever see my parents again face to face, (financial and other logistics today making that a bit hard), we feel blessed that we can, at least, speak to my parents; and we talk to them almost every day. Fast forward almost two years later; when my mom had the minor stroke this September, it was also very strange. Since we are not especially close to my sister and her family, and my dad is less vigorous than in his younger days, trying to actually reach my mom after the setback was a challenge in itself. Of course, I was thanking the Lord with tears when we heard she lived, and this minor stroke was something she seemed to come through fairly well, considering she’s not a kid.

    In such times, as in many seasons of life, perspective means a lot. It not only is used by God to help us through an experience, it is like a grace to help us see a picture differently, or make the scene bigger. While I was truly hurt that my parents had to move clear across the country to be with family we hardly talk to, nor whom it’s so easy to, I knew, over time, that this was simply, in one sense, the best for my parents, in terms of what could be provided for them physically.

    All the time my mom has been there, and increasingly, my folks talk about how leaving our home state was a bad decision. But the choice that was made during some rough moments two years ago was not one we had much choice in, and as I shared, I am not sure they did. I gain comfort and peace from the Lord knowing that, while I may not have the gift of seeing my mom each week anymore, nor getting to visit my parents like we used to, I can still call her and she can still speak to me like before. She misses the weekend visits we would have with them. I miss seeing them face to face too. I solace myself in Jesus by knowing there is so much over which I have control, and that so much is how we look at things, how do we choose to see the situation? Then I think of the fact that my mom and dad in law passed just in the last 3 years, and I am reminded, well, they are still alive and fairly well, thank God, all things considered. Perspective.

    Today is Thanksgiving, and it is the second one we will not be spending in person with my father and mother, yet, we are with them in spirit; as, as it pertains to them, this is what we’ve been given.

    In a perfect world, every sibling would he perfectly loving and parents would not age, people suffer, and surely loved ones would not move so very far away, for, maybe, ever. But God made us all, and we know in time, someday, when and how He decides, we will see them again. (Hippa laws notwithstanding, which, of course, make loving aging family who live far away pretty hard, especially if the other adults in their household do not call to share how mom is doing, since she fell once more after the stroke, but prayer works, and she is ok, so thank you Jesus).

    Sorry if this was a wee bit longinthetooth  Just to make a point about the Lord and perspective. Jesus bless you and your family for the kind thing you’re doing for the dear lady. There is so much for us to be thankful for though. Thank God for who, and what, we have!!! Happy Thanksgiving.

    Here’s a good one too: http://utmost.org/partakers-of-his-suffering/
    partakers-of-his-suffering

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