But... How Can We Be Thankful?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6, NIV

 

The man who influenced me more than anyone else to become a preacher was Jack Carter. It was not only his words  that made such an impression upon me, but also the way he lived. Jack is gone now, but he was a preacher for over 50 years. He had what seemed on the surface to be the perfect life, marrying his childhood sweetheart and raising a family of five beautiful children.

 

His life, however, was not without sorrow. One of his daughters contracted polio at a young age. His wife, Nancy, was stricken with a harsh variety of cancer and suffered for some time before yielding her life to that disease. A few years later, Jack was fishing at Yellowstone with his son Dave and two grandsons. A sudden squall came up, capsizing their boat. Jack and his son dove and dove under the icy water trying to find the boys, but to no avail. Then, Jack met Dave's eyes across the water and helplessly watched as his son sank beneath the waves.

 

I heard Jack speak of these trials some years later. He then, with humility, described how he prayed to his heavenly Father each day. He said that the only thing he could think to say some mornings was "Thank you! Thank you, Holy Father, thank you so much for all that you have done for me in my life."

 

You might be wondering how can anyone be thankful during such times.

 

A more appropriate question might be how can anyone not be thankful, whose hope is in Christ? How can anyone whose sins are forgiven (and whose penalty for those sins having been taken away) not be thankful to the One who paid the penalty? We are going to Heaven, if we will remain faithful - not because we deserve to, but because Jesus paid our penalty. And our loved ones will be there too, if they will but be faithful. Knowing all of this, how can we not be thankful? 

 

In America, at this time of year, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a time to remember just what we have been given - and to be thankful for those blessings. Things may not always go the exact way that we would choose, but when you think about it, how can we who have been given so much not start off each day with a prayer that says, "Thank you, thank you, thank you Father, thank you for all that you have done for me... thank you!"

 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:7, NIV