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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Learning to be thankful




One of the reasons we returned to the U.S. was to give Sarah a more normal lifestyle. Since Hong Kong is the most populated place in the world (per liveable sq. ft) you can't go too many places without people. For this reason, her life would have been in our flat. As you can see from the picture, she now gets to go out and play with her sisters at the park next to our house. Although this is a huge blessing, it is different than in the past because she mainly watches as the other two sisters play.

For me, watching this slow breakdown of her body is just as hard as when I was sitting with her in the hospital the first few nights when we had no idea what was happening. I feel the same as my heart gets heavy and so sad for her because to a point her childhood is being taken away. She doesn't have the carefree smile or joyful laughter like the other 7 year olds. Experiencing the change in her life is challenging me in how I view scripture. So what does God do to give me a teachable moment? He gives us this scripture tonight in our devotion, 1 Thess 5:16-18 " 16 Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." As I see this, I interpret Paul telling us that it is God's will that we are thankful in all circumstances.

I have taught, preached and shared this verse with people, but now I am challenged like never before with this verse. The application in Sarah's life is mind boggling for me. Am I supposed to be thankful we are going through this? Truthfully, there are many times I am not thankful, but instead angry or in despair. To teach me, God again gives wisdom to Sarah because what does my princess tell me as I admit to our family that I am struggling with being thankful? She says "Daddy, I am not struggling to give thanks to God." In my mind, I was thinking, "Sarah, how are you remaining thankful?"

Then we read the remaining part of the explanation of the scripture. We learn that it is God's will that we are thankful in these circumstances because He is with us to help us endure these circumstances. Jesus is with Sarah, and we are to exclaim, "thank you, thank you thank you!" Could we imagine life without Jesus at this moment? I would not make it one second; this is how desperate we find ourselves. At our Christmas Eve service I preached on the prophecy in Isaiah that describes Jesus as Immanuel, God is with us. Now, I can add to that sermon with a new illustration from our lives. Like never before I am so thankful Jesus is Immanuel! So God is teaching me to be thankful in all circumstances because it is His will for us in (Immanuel) Christ Jesus.

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