I would offer you a simple case study in applying Paul’s exhortation: Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thes. 5:18).
Sunday was rich in opportunity for our family to give thanks. Heidi, our youngest granddaughter, was baptized at Christ the King Anglican Church in Alexandria, with lots of family gathered to celebrate. What a great day! And it matched a great day the previous week, when Heidi’s cousin, Keith, was baptized at First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk. What a wonderful season for our family! Gratitude comes easily in such moments.
But Sunday was also hard for gratitude. Heidi’s two year old cousin, Caroline, fell just outside the church and broke her leg – not a happy moment for anyone. Suddenly in an otherwise marvelous day, gratitude did not come so easily.
Some perspective on this came my way this morning via a weekly e-mail I get from Les and Cindy Morgan, physicians who serve in Bangladesh. Each week they send an email prayer request for someone they know. This week they asked prayer for Akash, a 17 month old orphan, whose mom recently died of tuberculosis, leaving him in the care of an aunt. He was already badly malnourished and largely nonresponsive, and the care options are very limited. What will become of him? And how can one give thanks in that circumstance?
In contrast, little Caroline received excellent care from the get go: an aunt who is a doctor and helped on the spot, a top flight pediatric hospital emergency room, and now a well formed pink cast. With the Morgans’ email before me, suddenly gratitude for little Caroline’s situation began to come more easily.
How has this worked for you? With eyes open to God’s provision in every situation, and with a broad perspective on just how blessed we are in this country with all manner of provisions, gratitude can arise for us even on less than perfect days.
But for some situations I think we’ll have to await The Day that is fully perfect, when Jesus comes again. Then, somehow, we’ll be able to see reasons for gratitude even in situations like Akash’s. And in the meantime, looking to that day, we have hope – which brings its own flavor of gratitude in all circumstances!