March 21, 2018
I read a story about a missionary doctor in the 1960’s who, along with her co-workers, faced unimaginable cruelty from guerrilla soldiers who took over the hospital and occupied it for months. Feeling overwhelmed by the experience, she allowed herself to question why God had not intervened.
As she cried out to the Lord, she sensed Him asking her: “Can you thank me?” Obviously, God would not ask her to thank Him for evil. She realized the question she was hearing was: “Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?”
I thought of Job in the Old Testament. As far as we know, he was never told the reason for the calamity that came into his life. As brutal as his experience was, we read that he “tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshipped . . . and blessed the name of the Lord.”
Thanksgiving and gratefulness are easy when the good things of life are coming our way. It is when God allows us to experience difficulty and heartache that our ability to be thankful faces the real test. I like to think of myself as grateful much of the time. But in all honesty, when I read a story like that of Job or the missionary doctor, I realize that I fall far short of understanding what true thanksgiving is all about.
Perhaps the key to this kind of gratefulness is to focus more and more on the brutal effect of my sin on Jesus. When He hung on that cross and the sin of all mankind was placed on Him, even the Father looked away. There could not be a more lonely and forsaken feeling than what Jesus felt in that moment.
During this Easter season, I am determined to grow a step closer to true gratefulness as a way of life. Thanksgiving in all things is probably the most powerful witness for the presence of Christ in our life.
Pastor Bill Ehmann