“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
Philippians 4:4 ESV1
The sun rose bright and early on this beautiful Monday morning. But it’s still a Monday, and if you know me at all, you know Monday’s aren’t really my thing. I feel groggy from the activities of the weekend and stare down the long list of to-do’s for the week. My kiddos aren’t exactly clamoring to get back in the weekday-school routine either. Last week was another long week in a run of several, and I feel exhausted before I have even begun. It’s the time of year for fairs, fall sports and back to school. Our lives are full right now, and I am worn out. I’m asking myself, can I be thankful today?
“giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father”
Ephesians 5:20 (emphasis added)
There are have been longer and harder days than these in my life. Times when the rubber really hit the road and I felt like I couldn’t breathe or was living in some sort of nightmare. I will never forget sitting at my son’s bedside in the late night hours before his brain surgery. Praying, begging God to save my son, to give me the strength that I knew I didn’t have. The next morning, before they wheeled him into the operating room, I whispered “love you’s” fearing that I might not have a chance to speak those words again in this life. Several grueling hours of surgery followed. It was the longest, scariest day of my life. Some friends of ours had driven through the night to be with us, and I remember telling them over a hospital cafeteria table that if something happened, I was thankful for the eleven years the Lord blessed me to be his mama. Austin made it through the surgery that day, and I had more reasons to give thanks. In the days and months to come, I would come to understand thanksgiving in a whole new way.
“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
Some things just aren’t that important. I can’t tell you how many times I have repeated that phrase to myself and others in the past two years. When you come face to face with eternity, your perspective of the temporal changes. We, I, tend to overlook everyday graces, but when you walk the halls at a Children’s Hospital and embrace grieving parents, you see things a little differently. Each day is a new grace. Ann Voskamp addresses this in her book One Thousand Gifts when she remarks on a poem by G.K. Chesterton:
Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
“Why doesn’t anyone ask that question?” Voskamp asks. “Why are we allowed two? Why lavished three? A whole string of grace days?”2 Each day I can choose to be thankful because I know every blessing, every grace I have received is one I didn’t deserve and was paid for by the cross.
“For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we are all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.”
John 1:16 AMP
A couple Sunday’s ago, I came home from church itching for a good Baptist nap. As I passed by the kitchen, I saw my sink and counter overflowing with dishes just waiting to be cleaned, but instead of feeling weary from the endless amount of chores, I chose to be thankful. Because when I saw those dishes, I was reminded that we had food. God, our provider and the Good Shepherd, had taken care of us once again and we hadn’t gone without anything we needed. I want to see through these eyes every day.
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
I don’t ever want to face a day wishing it was already over because I never know how many days (or moments) we have left. The days are long, and sometimes, I feel like I’m on the last leg of a race and my lungs are burning and I am going to collapse at any second. But I can still choose to be thankful. I am thankful for each night when we can all sleep in our beds. I am thankful for hot showers and good books. I am thankful for how the morning sun shines through our windows and for the beautiful colorings painted on the lake and sky at sunset. I am thankful for thunderstorms and football games, for the sound of my children’s laughter and how my three-year-old gets excited telling me a story. I can be thankful on the hardest days when nothing seems to be going right and I fear I might lose everything. I can be thankful even then because I know I don’t ever have to walk those days alone. God Himself stands in the fire beside me.3 And on those days when grief is overwhelming, I am thankful that He holds my broken heart and cries with me. Each day, new graces are given to me, and I can give thanks no matter the circumstances for “God is always good and I am always loved.”2
Yes, I can be thankful today.
“[G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
September 12, 2016
1Unless otherwise noted, all scripture comes from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles.
2Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010.
3Lyrics from one of my new favorites—“Jesus” by Chris Tomlin. I also encourage you to check out the real life in-the-fire story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found in Daniel 3.