Since today is Thanksgiving, it seems to make sense to depart from the Christmas theme and consider thankfulness.
I heard a pastor say once that if God took away everything and everyone, but we still had God, we would still have everything. Wow! At first thought, that’s difficult to swallow, and yet, isn’t it so true?
I have thought often about Job. He stands out in the Bible for me as one whom I would like to emulate, but I don’t really know if I ever could. Job lost nearly all of his family and everything he owned. He lost all ten of his children, his livestock, his servants. Job’s response…”The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21b NLT) And then, God gave Satan permission to affect his health. He developed painful sores “from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.” (Job 2:7 NIV) His wife, the only person in his family still alive, instead of supporting him in his worst hour, encouraged him to curse God and die. Job, however, did not do this. The Bible says in Job 2:10b that “…Job did not sin in what he said.” His friends suggested that maybe he had some sin that he needed to confess. While Job did curse the day of his birth, he did not blame God for all that had befallen him.
I shake my head in wonder at this. While I would like to think that I would respond as Job did because isn’t that what a “good Christian” would do, I know how whiney I get when I have a cold! I haven’t ever lost anyone really close to me, nor have I had everything I own taken away.
Things have not been so easy, though. I have suffered much. I came to the realization a few years ago that I had been unhappy for most of my life. The question was, why? Why had I been unhappy?
I became a Christian when I was 11 years old, but I think I was in my late 20’s before I knew what it meant to have a real relationship with the Lord, to walk with Him daily. Even then, I did not make Him my everything. My eyes were mostly focused on my circumstances, and consequently, I stayed unhappy. Unhappy and ungrateful.
God has been working with me on this, though, and I think we’re making some progress. A good example would be the most recent development in my life. Last week, my husband found out that his job is going away at the end of this year. Of course, I was shocked. I didn’t see it coming, and it took me a couple of days to process what had happened. Two days after my husband’s news when the reality had just begun to settle in, my father-in-law was laid off. But then, God’s promises came ringing through loud and clear….”Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I can not explain it, but I have perfect peace about this. I haven’t always been able to say that, but maybe God and I have made some headway. I know that He is in control of this situation, and He knows the plans He has for my family and me. Beyond that, I don’t have to know anything else. How freeing.
And you know what else? I feel happy…and oh so thankful!