Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

This morning I woke up sick. Nothing serious, just a cold (I think). With my throat sore and feeling like I could easily sleep for a week, I got up intending to just feed the cats and go right back to bed. But then I smelled the wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and decided maybe I'd stay up after all.

I took my Bible into my bedroom and sat with my kitty curled up next to me as I sipped my coffee, when it occurred to me what a blessing it was to have the ability to enjoy a hot cup of fresh coffee to soothe my irritated throat... and help me wake up. Then, as I looked outside at the dark clouds and wind, I realized also what a blessing it is that although I am sick, I am still blessed with all the comforts of home.

My mind goes to the scene from the movie The Hiding Place (the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family's persecution at the hand of the Nazis for helping the Jews), where Corrie is gravely ill as the Nazis burst into her house and begin interrogating her and slapping her without pity or regard for her white face and weakened body, or for the horror stricken faces of her sister and father as they stood by helplessly as she was beaten.

She (and her whole family) was arrested and taken to a concentration camp. She was ill - with pneumonia, if I recall correctly - but she still was beaten, stripped and searched as guards looked on jeering and humiliating her, she was denied any medicine, or even the comfort of a clean, dry bed to rest on or a decent meal. Spared even a kind word, or an ounce of compassion, she was separated from her family, and thrown in with prisoners - treated as a common criminal.

Remembering this in the comfort of my own home, surrounded with my loved ones, and able to help myself to Tylenol or cold medicine at any time- perfectly safe and in no physical danger at all, I find it difficult to complain. My heart is overwhelmed with thanksgiving- it's in times like these that I appreciate greatly the little comforts we all take for granted.

It also makes me think of the countless others who are suffering far worse than just 'a cold' without someone to care for them, comfort them, or tend to their needs. Or those who are suffering with serious illnesses - knowing they won't get better. Or suffering sickness while homeless or while held someplace against their will. Who comforts them? Who seeks to ease their pain, or encourage them?

The Bible tells us in 1Thessalonians 5: 16-18
"Rejoice Always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

The act of giving thanks- even in trying times- is something that may be hard for some people to do. Society and even our human nature urges us to be thankful when we have 'reason' to be (and some people aren't thankful even then)...but God wants us to be thankful always! One of the main reasons He desires this, is because being thankful forces us to look for - and notice- our blessings! When we look for reasons to give thanks to God, He will open our eyes to so many blessings that we had never noticed....and when we are expressing thanksgiving to God for His goodness, it's very difficult to complain or be depressed.

What do you have to be thankful for? I could go on listing one thing after another, but if you ask God to open your eyes to see His gifts and blessings for you, He will do it, and as you focus on these things (rather than your problems and complaints) you will see that you have good reason to "rejoice always" and to give thanks in all things.

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