In Everything? Really?
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
If I am perfectly honest with myself, and with you, right now I am having a hard time reconciling real life experience with this instruction from the Apostle Paul. This has been one of the toughest years that I can remember. This year has been harder on me than my multi-year struggle with cancer. That was a hard sentence to write, but in many ways it is true. My fight with cancer was under the skillful direction of one of the best oncologists in the state. No matter what setback we encountered, he always had another solution, another trick to try. Now more than 10 years cancer free I credit my recovery to his knowledge, and God’s providence (of course). Yet, this year of pandemic fear, social unrest, contentious elections and uncertainty over the future coupled with endless loss have left me a little raw.
There has been a lot of loss this year. There were family events, divisional events, camps and conferences, trips and hundreds of other great things that were postponed and eventually cancelled. I lost my mother, my wife lost a nephew, and we lost a close friend and work associate. Frankly, I am tired, and a little bit lost. Now we are staring Thanksgiving right in the face, and another verse from the apostle for this time of year: “…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 (NIV) 20
Always giving thanks? In everything? This simple verse brings me up short. Thanks are not only for the good things. The pleasant things. Things that don’t hurt. Thanks are for everything. What does that look like in November 2020? It may take me a while, but I need to start looking for and remembering reasons to thank God for everything. I need to start a list and it will undoubtedly include some things that don’t seem good. But, everything is what it says.
Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.