It’s pretty easy to be thankful when things go right, but what about when things look like they’re going wrong?
Posted in , Nov 26, 2013
“Give thanks in every situation,” wrote Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “because this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” The part of it that keeps sticking in my head is that phrase, “in every situation.” It’s pretty easy to be thankful when things go right, but what about when things look like they’re going wrong?
I was thinking of that verse when I talked to my pal at church Bob, who has been on chemo for too many months. Bob is an exuberant, joyful, laugh-filled, smart, funny guy about my age (OK, we don’t have to say exactly what that age is). He was diagnosed over a year ago with a pretty nasty case of cancer and the treatments left him so tuckered out that he disappeared from regular worship for months at a time. When I see him on a Sunday I feel like it’s cause for rejoicing. I think, Well, maybe the treatments are working. Or at least the side effects haven’t completely blind-sided him.
There he was last Sunday and after getting and giving a bear hug, I asked him how he’s been doing. Yes, the treatments are hard on his system. Some days he can barely get around. He said he had his own Gethsemane moment last Ash Wednesday–maybe not liturgically on schedule but there it was. “I cried for a while and then just said, ‘OK, Lord, I’m with you.’ ” For now, he’s thankful. Incredibly thankful to be alive.
There it was, thanks in all situations, even in this. I remember talking to Dr. Scott Morris, who runs a clinic down in Memphis for the poorest of the poor. “They have worked hard their whole lives, tough manual labor,” he said. “Often their families have broken up and they’ve seen more sorrow than you can imagine–drugs, violence, the scourge of poverty–but when I ask them how they are, they will say, ‘I’m blessed.’ ”
This Thanksgiving, Carol and I will be hosting a group of family and friends, many who have experienced their share of sorrows and losses, cancer treatments and surgeries. But all of us have so much to be thankful for. In every situation, at all times, there’s always a reason to say, like one of Dr. Morris’ patients, “I’m blessed.”