Summary: We have so many reasons to give thanks at Thanksgiving. Are you grateful?
Are You Grateful?
This past week Ruth Ross and I went to visit some folks who are going through a difficult time so that we could pray for them and let them know that the Lord has not forgotten their struggle. Each week when Ruth and I go to hospitals, nursing homes, or into people’s homes I always come away having received a greater blessing than I could have anticipated. The opportunity to see how the Lord’s sustaining strength fortifies those who are suffering is one of God’s great blessings for you and me.
One of the people that we spent some time with this past week was an older lady whom I have known for several years. When I first met Jean she had her daughter and an adopted grand daughter living with her. There were problems present that they had to deal with on a daily basis, but Jean constantly sought the Lord and called on Him to intervene and see them through the storm.
After the Lord led Jean through that storm and her daughter and grand daughter moved out on their own, Jean learned that her stepfather was terminally ill. None of his biological family took the step to get involved so Jean stepped in and nursed her stepfather until his death about three years ago. I lost touch with Jean after that as she lost her home and had to move. She took a job living with someone in Norman who needed constant care. Jean provided care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until her own health failed to the point where she couldn’t care for the elderly man any longer.
Jean called me this past week and asked if I could pray for her. She told me that she had learned that her son and daughter have cancer. She had total knee replacement surgery back in September and is not able to make the trip to California to care for her kids. She was heartbroken that she couldn’t be with her kids to help them through their storm.
When Ruth and I arrived at Jean’s apartment she was so glad to see us. For thirty minutes she told us about her struggles. At times her voice would crack with the pain she felt in her heart. At one point in her story, her voice cracked, she lifted her hand to the Lord in praise, and said, “but I am thankful because I still have my life.” I was so blessed that the Lord gave me the opportunity to be with someone who has struggled intensely with the setbacks of life, but who could still lift her hands in praise to the God who was sustaining her life.
When it was time for Ruth and I to leave we gathered around Jean and prayed for the Lord to continue to strengthen her body and faith. As we walked out of Jean’s apartment Ruth said, “Boy, we think we have problems?” Being in the company of great suffering will correct our distorted perspectives won’t it? We recognize how truly blessed we are when we are in the company of suffering. I know that this is one of the reasons God calls us to step out of our little worlds and enter into the world of those who suffer in so many ways. I can’t remember any time that being in the company of someone who was suffering has not served as a reminder of how the Lord has blessed me.
I want to encourage us today to continue to reach out to those who are hurting with the hope and strength that is only available through the Lord, but I also want to encourage us to take an additional step of faith. We need to recognize the multitude of blessings that come our way each and every day whether we are in the company of those who suffer or not. We need a mindset of gratitude to grip us every moment of every day. I believe in my heart that being in the company of those who suffer leads to an attitude of gratitude, but I would suggest to you that there is an even greater way to maintain this mindset than being in the company of the suffering and that is being in the presence of the Father.
When we fix our minds upon the Lord and all that He has done on our behalf we can’t help but be filled with overflowing gratitude for His goodness, mercy, and salvation. We can see this fact throughout history.
This is Thanksgiving week. Thanksgiving for most of us will be filled with lots of food, ballgames, and time spent with family or friends. The first Thanksgiving wasn’t nearly as casual, cozy, or comfortable, but gratitude was the food that fed their hungry souls on that first Thanksgiving.