“Give thanks in all circumstances … for this is the will of God concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
50 years ago today I was in the 9th grade and sitting in Civics class right after lunch when our teacher was called out of the room and came back in crying—“The president has been shot!” That’s all he could say and he hoisted the rabbit ears on the black and white TV set in the room and we watched the unfolding news story the rest of the class period. Such are my first memories of the JFK story. My second memory was of the next morning when we got up Sabbath morning to get ready for church and my dad turned on the TV! THAT was more shocking to me than the news of the president! We NEVER watched TV on Sabbath! My dad explained that this was an historic event that we would probably never experience again in our lives. It was one of my first glimpses of the “law” being written on the heart and not just the head.
It pretty much consumed our lives for the next few days as we watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV, saw Vice President Johnson sworn in as the new president while he was flying back to Washington DC, and the whole funeral including little John’s salute of his father when he was probably only 4-5 years old. It WAS an historic event and I’m glad I have never experienced it again in my life.
So how does one “give thanks in all circumstances?” I’m not sure Mrs. Kennedy was much into giving thanks that day, nor are most people as we are perpetually pelted by problems. My “at this point conclusion” is that it does NOT say that I have to be “thankful” for everything that happens; it says I should “give thanks” in all circumstances. Maybe that’s straining at gnats but it helps me remember that everything that happens to me is NOT in God’s ideal plan for my life. Some of it I bring on myself by poor choices, and some of it is just the result of having to live in this sinful world. Paul did not say to the Romans, “all things are good,” he said, “all things work together FOR good—for those who love God.” And to the believers in Thessalonica he did not say, “be thankful for everything that happens to you,” but I think he did say, “give thanks to God that life’s junk can teach me a lesson of how to choose better, or it can give me an opportunity to trust God more completely as He brings me through this life and into the next.
So, this is the last GMU for a week, and during that week we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving. Besides football, family (and MOCK turkey loaf! J) I pray that we all will choose to focus a bit (or a lot—or completely) on the gift of thankfulness toward God for all He does to grow us and keep us in the palm of His loving hand.
Have a great and thankful day and week—travel safely, sleep lots, study some, eat responsibly, and praise Him thankfully! C U December 2! J