Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
2 Corinthians 4:15 “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Thanksgiving is just about 2 weeks away and November is typically the month we associate with giving thanks for all we have. Many of us show our thanks through social media and some of us just simply say thanks through prayer to our Father in Heaven. I am blessed, and I am so thankful to God for all I have, for all He has given me. Family, health, a home, friends, laughter, food on my table, an education and a career, being able to retire and still live in comfort, years with my mother living with us, pets, and so many more gifts from God that bring me warmth, love, and happiness.
Yet, I am thankful for so much more too. I am thankful for the things that brought tears, sadness, stress, fears, doubt, and even anger. In Thessalonians 5:16 – 18, God tells us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We should not just give thanks for the good things in life, for the happy times, but for every situation, every circumstance in life. God teaches us so much through the trials and strife in life. Rejoice always!
I can remember disappointments, trials, and hard times as a young girl, and especially as a teenager. At the time growing up, I did not give thanks to God for those situations. I did not understand the importance of those difficult moments in life until I grew up and went through so much more. So today, even though I have said thank you to God so many times, I am writing out the gifts, the situations, and the circumstance that I will be forever thankful for.
Today, I am thankful for the store losing an order for my wedding dress in the summer of 1976. At the time, it was devastating to find out the perfect dress I had ordered had not been ordered just 2 weeks before my wedding. Every girl dreams of the perfect dress! Yet, without their mistake, I would not have had the privilege and honor of wearing my sister’s wedding dress. When I look back at pictures of her wedding and my wedding, it is with love knowing that on our special days we shared the ‘perfect dress’. Disappointments around a wedding can be devastating, but I choose to think God used the moment to bring my sister and I closer together.
Today, I am thankful for the years Mike and I worked so hard to earn our college degrees. We worked so hard, and often barely had enough time to say hi to each other, much less spend an evening with each other, even as newlyweds. We worked full time and went to school full time, to fulfill our dreams and follow God’s plan for our lives. Those five years were not easy, but by following God’s plan we both earned our degrees, and even furthered our educations past the four years, and we both began our careers. Those five years made us stronger and more determined to finish what we started and to follow where God leads us, yet even though we did not spend a lot of time with each other, those years actually brough us closer together and our love was stronger than ever.
Today, I am thankful for the miscarriage of a beautiful baby boy so early in 1980. The tears and the heartache that were a part of those days of losing him were devastating! I questioned God many times during those days. There were even moments that I was angry. I could not understand what God was teaching us through this loss. I do not know if I will ever understand the reasoning, but I do know that the birth of our healthy son in 1982 was filled with such love and amazement that we were completely overwhelmed with love and joy. Every single moment with him and us as a family was appreciated so much more after experiencing such a loss earlier. Revelation 21:4 tells us, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” I Peter 5:10 also tells us, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
God wiped the tears from our eyes and gave us such joy with the birth of our son. The sadness, the suffering, and the tears were necessary for us to receive the strength God gave us for the future. God knows His plans for our lives. He knows what we are going to need to make it through life. God restored us, He made me strong, firm, and steadfast because He knew what was coming. I am so thankful for the tears, the sadness, and the suffering. I am so thankful God never left our sides but gave us what we needed to make it through one of the hardest situations we had faced to that point in our lives.
This is a more difficult moment, but it truly is one I am thankful for. I am thankful that God knew His plans for Mike way before we knew. I am so thankful for the 10 years I had with him, and the fact that I was given 10 years to observe Mike’s compassion for others and his love and passion for his career. I am thankful for the things I learned about myself while we were together. I am so thankful for the hardships and the stressful days of our early days together because they made me stronger and have more confidence in my ability to handle the most difficult moment of my life. Mike’s death in a helicopter crash! I am thankful that Mike’s last evening was filled with our son and his coworkers celebrating his birthday. That he knew he was loved, appreciated, and respected by those around him. I am so thankful that our son was able to sing Happy Birthday to his daddy that evening before they took their final flight to save an infant. I am thankful God surrounded us with family and friends that stepped in and stayed with us every step of the days that followed. I am so thankful that God knew Mike had made his impact on earth, and from that moment on God needed him in heaven more than I needed him on earth. Do not get me wrong though, there were moments after his death for weeks, months, and even years when I was angry and mad at God for taking him, but as I look back now I am so thankful for the time we had, the son we had together, the memories I will always hold in my heart, and the lessons learned during this time. Through Mike’s death, God showed me how strong I am, how courageous I was during that time, and He reminded me of His strength and mercy. He taught me to lean on Him more than I ever had before, He reminded me of His love for me and that He would never give me more than I could handle. For God’s love, mercy, strength, wisdom, and understanding I am so incredibly thankful.
Today, I am so thankful for doctors and x-ray technicians that caught a small place, a minuscule place, on my left breast that looked suspicious to them. I am so thankful for a doctor who laid his tablet to the side, and took my hand after my diagnosis, and said, “Please let me pray for you before we go any farther in discussing treatment.” I am so thankful for medical technology that gives doctors the opportunity to detect cancer at such an early stage in its formation. I am so thankful for surgeons and their God-given skill that allows them to locate such minuscule places and take them out before they grow and spread to become so much more life threatening. I am so thankful for my husband, children, and family that had patience and love for me as I went through the very painful recovery and five years of a medicine that made me feel sick most of the time. Today, I can honestly say I am thankful for a diagnosis of breast cancer, through that diagnosis God reminded me once more of His strength and wisdom, but He also reminded me of how strong I am and that He has given me courage to face so much more. He was not going to fail me through this either.
Today I am so thankful for my mother’s health issues that allowed her to come and live with us for the last six years of her life. She had several health issues that were too serious for her to live by herself, and a nursing home was out of the question. I am so thankful for those six years. My children and grandchildren were able to build stronger relationships with her because of her living with us. I am so thankful for the memories created during those years. I am so thankful that I can still hear her laughter and still feel her presence in our home. Today I am so thankful for the changes in our lives that were made to have mother living with us. I am thankful for the lessons learned, but most important I am thankful for the opportunity God gave me to take care of my mother and to show my children how one day the roles will be reversed for them too. Taking care of one’s parent is not the easiest journey to travel, but it is a journey with so many rewards and honors.
Today I am thankful for a teaching career of 27 years that taught me many more lessons than I probably taught my students. Teaching is not always easy, and quite often it is a thankless career path. However, it is filled with rewarding smiles and hugs, and memories to last a lifetime. Today I thankful for a God that knew His plan for me, and even though He had to truly push me towards that career because my plan was totally different, and I even spent my first 4 years pursuing a college degree that was not in God’s plan. I am thankful for my God who did not give up on me and gave me so many situations to see where He was leading me. I am thankful that He never stopped talking to me and leading me with His grace and wisdom. I am thankful for the blessings received from my students and their families over 27 years, and I am thankful for the relationships created and nurtured throughout the years. My God never gave up on me and His plan for me to be a teacher, and I am so thankful He did not give up.
Today I am just thankful! I am thankful for every lesson learned, every sacrifice made, every tear, every difficult situation, every challenge in life, every bump in the road, and every disappointment in life. Today I am thankful for a God who never gives us more than we can handle, and my God who knows me so well! I am reminded of a poem I have read many times:
I asked for Strength . . .
And God gave me difficulties to make me strong
I asked for Wisdom . . .
And God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for Prosperity . . .
And God gave me brains and brawn to work.
I asked for Courage . . .
And God gave me danger to overcome.
I asked for Love . . .
And God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted . . .
I received everything I needed.
And for that I am forever thankful for My God!