… Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Today is my 75th birthday, and next Thursday is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, because with our focus on family and gratitude, we often behave more like Jesus on Thanksgiving than we do during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
It had not been my plan to celebrate my 75th birthday without my beloved Christie, who has been with the Lord for the last three years. And I had not expected Israel to be invaded this fall by an army of Hamas terrorists who, amidst their killings and kidnappings, beheaded and burned children and the elderly.
I never expected antisemitism to reappear so forcefully in our nation and around the world, or to hear Israel labelled as the “bad guy” when they chose to respond forcefully to this invasion. What would we do in America if instead of immigrants fleeing their own troubled countries, we had an army of terrorists cross our border with Mexico, kill and kidnap our people and children, and then go back across the border to hide – particularly when we know their army’s goal is to annihilate our nation?
I had not expected to see Russia invade one of our European allies, while threatening everyone else with the use of nuclear weapons, and I never expected that after we and our other European allies helped the incredibly brave Ukrainians resist this invasion, some of us would want to quit helping and let Russia prevail.
I never expected to be told gender is a multiple-choice question rather than a biological fact. I never expected our two national political parties to project the present frontrunner candidates for President in 2024 as the best we can do. And I never expected to hear that people were using artificial intelligence to write term papers, songs, and even sermons.
Yet amidst all this, it is God’s will for me to be thankful, and I am.
I am thankful for 47 years with my beloved Christie, and for the knowledge I will see her again; and I am thankful for the two beautiful daughters we raised together and their wonderful families.
I am thankful that through the Bible and His relentless engagement in my life, particularly through other people, our eternal Creator God has revealed to me His character: unfailing goodness, faithfulness, truthfulness, knowledge, wisdom, justice, mercy, power, generosity, grace, and above all, unconditional love. I am thankful that He loves me, and you, and every other person on this planet, including those struggling and suffering on both sides in Gaza and Ukraine.
I am thankful beyond words for how God has expressed His love to us through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and the gift of His Holy Spirit. I am thankful for His desire that everyone receive these gifts of God from God and enter everlasting life with Him.
I am thankful for God’s plan through Jesus Christ to totally conquer evil and reconcile all things in heaven and earth back to Himself – a plan God will fully accomplish. (Isaiah 46:9-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Ephesians 1:9-10) I am thankful that I can rejoice always, even in times of great difficulty, because God’s strength is perfected in my weakness, He will use those difficulties to make me more like Him, and in the end, we win! (John 16:33; James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 12:9-10; Philippians 4:4-7, 11-13)
I am thankful that I can enter God’s gates and presence with thanksgiving. (Psalm 95:2, 100:4-5) With thanksgiving for all my Lord has done in the past, I can have peace in my heart and pray faith-filled petitions for my Lord to move in our world today, because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Philippians 4:4-7; Hebrews 13:8)
Finally, I am thankful that I can share this column with all of you. And I am going to make a birthday request.
Today, at some point when you can give God your undivided attention, will you please pray this prayer with me: “I give thanks to the Lord, the God of Gods and Lord of Lords, for all good things come from Him, and He is good, and His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1-3; James 1:17)
God bless you, and God bless our community.