Being thankful in a topsy-turvy world

From the national director: What am I thankful for, right this minute?

Photo: Getty Images

We’re entering the time of year when we think more intentionally about being thankful. Thanksgiving is just around the corner while at the same time Christmas is already promoted in stores and television ads and has been since September in some cases.

I think it’s good that we put things in their proper order. I like order. God likes order. Just look at his creation or read through the Bible and you see order. So, can we wait on Christmas, even though it’s a really good thing to focus on—when the time is right? It’s alright to think about the incarnation of Jesus any time of year, I get that. But still. Can we chill a little with all the Christmas promo that now begins when it’s still 100 degrees outside? Can we focus more on what we can be thankful about, especially now when our world seems so topsy-turvy?

The world does seem wild and crazy. What with Delta variants, turmoil in Afghanistan, vaccinations (or not), overflowing ICU units, conflicts among various nations, inflation, murder hornets, political battles between Republicans and Democrats, natural disasters, a national debt so large we can hardly even begin to calculate its enormity, masks or no masks, education challenges, new COVID-19 variants that we haven’t even named yet, intense bickering on social media. Shall I continue? If I do, I will get myself really depressed.

The apostle Paul writes, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 5:16-18). God’s goodness doesn’t change based on circumstances. That’s good news, as he is always good. And we know that God’s goodness is fully displayed through Jesus and his sacrifice. As followers of Jesus, we have a hope and confidence that those who don’t believe simply cannot share. We know to whom we belong. We know we can have rock-solid, trial-tested hope in the one who has given us eternal life. When we give God thanks, even in the midst of this messed-up world, it connects us with his goodness and can allow us to experience release from worry or anxiety.

If my thanksgiving to God is genuine, it can help carry me through any struggle or hardship, even intense pain or grief. Because God is good, all the time. When I pause and take stock of all that God has blessed me with, misery takes a hike.

For what am I thankful, right this minute as I write this?

I have a wonderful wife, Janna, to whom I’ve been married for 46 years. She is my soul mate and partner in life. We have three children, all married with children of their own. We have a quiver-full of grandkids and they give us, for the most part, great joy. We get to watch them grow up, and we observe their God-given gifts and how each one is a unique blessing from God.

I’m thankful that our youngest, our son, Brady, and his wife, Holly, have determined to invest their lives into full-time ministry. If you happen to know Brady’s life story, you know that this is the outcome of redemption and healing that only God can accomplish. We’re extremely thankful for how God is using our other two children as well. They all love Jesus. I’m exceedingly grateful for that!

I’m thankful for the freedom to choose what I do and where I go without being handcuffed by tyrannical restraint, as is sadly the case in many places in the world. In that same light, I’m thankful for the ability to attend church and worship freely. I’m thankful that I have a Bible setting open right in front of me and have no fear that someone might see and then report me as an offender. I’m thankful for the air that I breathe. I could go on.

My question for you is, for what are you thankful? What is God providing that deserves your utmost gratitude? It’s good to pause, reflect and then express with conviction, “God, thank you!”


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