Dear fellow traveler:
There was a little blessing that I learned as a grace before meals when I was a very little girl:
“Thank you for the world so sweet;
Thank you for the food we eat;
Thank you for the birds that sing;
Thank you, God – for everything!”
That little verse got me thinking very early on about the fact that all we have and all we are comes from God. We have much to be grateful for. And generally when we think of thanking God for our gifts we think of those wonderful things we have been given – the beautiful world, our food, the birds and their song. . .all such lovely things to contemplate.
Then we stop to consider all the awful parts of our lives. Unexpected and difficult losses, the deaths of loved ones, misery, poverty, hunger, war, hatred, depression, ill-health. . .one after another. It’s amazing that in the midst of so much beauty we seem to be able to find only the ugliness. But, I accept that as part of being human. I think you need only read many of the Psalms to discover that humans have been complainers since the beginning of time! So be it.
But – next I think of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. One of my favorite letters of all time! Paul’s love for those people flows out of every word and phrase. He is loving, chiding, reminding and thankful for the dear people there who supported him even in the midst of their own poverty. That said, the verses I love, besides the “Philippians Hymn,” (Philippians 2:1-11 – indeed the whole second chapter is exquisite in message and beauty!), are the whole of the last chapter – Chapter 4. In the 4th-7th verses, we are told to rejoice – and not just when we feel like it! But to give thanks in everything. Thank God in all situations and for everything (good and bad) that comes your way. Another thing he says later on is (and this is key!): “…for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” (vs. 11b-13)
Such a tall order – to be thankful for everything! When my Daddy was ill, and it was clear that he would not beat the cancer that had taken over his body, I was very torn inside. I knew he would be better off letting go, and moving on to be with our Lord, but I so wanted him to stay here with me! That week, just shortly before Daddy died, I read again Paul’s admonition to be thankful for everything. My prayer became, “Lord, please give me the strength and grace to say and to mean ‘Thank you, God,’ when I learn that Daddy has passed on to You.” My Daddy died at a hospice facility at 5 minutes to midnight on February 3, 1991. My Mom called me from the hospice just shortly after midnight. I started to cry – with joy, when I heard the first words out of my mouth, “Praise You, Lord, and thank You for the wonderful gift of my earthly father and his presence in my life! Oh my Lord, you are so good, and I am eternally grateful.” Then I was astounded, because I do not remember forming those words in my mind. They were spoken through me, for me.
One other thing. A wonderful Bible teacher I was fortunate to have known and learned from said a very interesting thing one day. He said, “I believe that many times the devil is blamed for some of the things that God does.” We often assume that trials are terrible things and tragedies, etc. and are evil and from Satan. Not so, he said. God’s desire is that we place our whole life in God’s Hands, and rely solely on God for everything in our lives. In order to move us in that direction, some times the “rug is pulled out from underneath us,” to help us see that we have depended upon the rug, and not on God. Interesting, eh?
Loving God, trusting God explicitly, completely, with our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to understand our individual and personal relationship with our heavenly Father/Mother as His/Her child, therefore knowing inside that all people are – and to treat them accordingly – with love and respect, as we wish for ourselves.
All of this comes under a very broad heading of Giving Thanks in Everything! I will be reminding myself tonight, and will continue to focus my thoughts on constant praise and thanksgiving – whether I feel like it or not, because, let’s face it – God is certainly worthy of it! Feelings come and go and change at a moment’s notice – God is always present, and never changes. Thank You God, for everything!
Kenny, my brother in Christ,
I’ll see you at the campfire tonight!
I wish you the abundance of enough. . .