Dear Church family,
This morning the church’s custodian Curtis Mitchell walked in my office and told me this story. He said:
“A man in my church asked me a couple of weeks ago, ‘What would you have tomorrow if all you had was what you’d given thanks for today?’ Well,” said Curtis, “I thought about that and I wouldn’t have much!” Then he said he gave this same challenge to his own church members (Curtis pastors a church himself). “I gave them a full week though,” he explained, “to see what they might have left if all that counted was what they’d thanked God for. I think,” he concluded, “it still probably wasn’t very much.”
This exchange got me thinking. It is a good question to ask: What would I have in life if I only had what I was daily thankful for? It is a good question for all of us to ask and, hopefully, allow it to prod us toward greater thanksgiving each and every day.
Paul put it simply when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4: 4)
In my years of ministry I have often found that it is folks who are going through difficult times who best know how to live out this verse. They are often very good at rejoicing and being thankful; it is folks who are doing fine who forget. I was recently reminded of this truth through a friend of mine who lives in Texas. She is facing brain cancer—the same kind that Senator John McCain has—and I follow her progress through the website “Caring Bridge.” In her latest update on the site, her husband described how the radiation treatments are going and he said that his wife has begun a new pattern. Each morning, for the last couple of months, she has woken up and the very first thing she has said before even leaving the bed is,
“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Every single morning she repeats these words from Psalm 118. Every single morning. There is something about difficulty that reminds us of all we have to be thankful for. But we don’t want to wait until tragedy strikes to live a life of thanksgiving, of rejoicing. We want to rejoice now, be thankful now. As Paul puts it: “always.”
To do this, perhaps our prayer should be from that great hymn “God of Our Life”:
God of our life, through all the circling years, we trust in thee.
In all the past, through all our hopes and fears, thy hand we see.
With each new day, when morning lifts the veil,
we own thy mercies, Lord, which never fail…
God of the coming years, through paths unknown we follow thee.
When we are strong, Lord, leave us not alone. Our refuge be.
Be thou for us in life our daily bread,
our heart’s true home when all our years have sped.
Christ’s peace be with you all,