Thursday, November 25, 2010

Always Giving Thanks

A friend and spiritual mentor encouraged me soon after Micah’s death that we need to be thankful in every circumstance. He encouraged us to find reason to be thankful to God as soon as possible. Ephesians 5:19&20 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I found that encouragement very hard to swallow. It is one thing to give thanks when the sun is shining on your face, and “Mr. Bluebird is whistling on your shoulder.” How could we possibly give thanks for the circumstances surrounding Micah’s death?

In the contemporary version of the “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet produced by Campus Crusade for Christ, the booklet includes an illustration of a train pulling a caboose. The train is entitled “Fact,” and the caboose is entitled, “Feelings.” The booklet stresses the importance of the historical life, death and resurrection of Christ on the cross on our behalf, and to trust in that “fact,” regardless of how we “feel” about the circumstances of our lives. In other words, we must look to the scriptures for promises and to trust in those promises even when we don’t feel like God loves us. We must allow the facts of God’s promises to us in scripture to “pull us through” all of life’s circumstances when we have no reason to believe, based upon our circumstances alone, of God’s great promises for us in Christ Jesus.

Last year, on Thanksgiving Day, Heather agreed, on purpose, to work at the Hospital all day. I went to the cemetery and then posted some thoughts entitled, “Thankful for the Living Hope,” in which I expressed thankfulness for our future hope, through Jesus Christ, in the resurrection of our deceased son Micah. But with regard to our particular circumstances, I didn’t particularly feel much like celebrating. Our circumstances didn’t lend themselves to allowing the “caboose” of feelings pull our faith. Our long-awaited son had died that summer, and now we were left on our first holiday without him. God had seemingly answered our prayers for a child with Micah, and then, very suddenly, took him away under tragic circumstances.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am amazed and thankful for what God has done since I wrote that post last year on Thanksgiving Day. We’ve gone through the myriad of emotions accompanying a sudden death—shock, avoidance, despair, depression, and anger. We have maintained a faith in the goodness of God by focusing on the “facts” of God’s sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy and His love.

This year, from an emotional perspective, we have seen a gradual turning (or returning) of joy in our life. Particularly in the birth of our second son, Owen, we have had occasion for our home to be full of laughter, smiles, and baby sounds once again. This Thanksgiving Day, we continue to be thankful for the same things we were thankful for last year, namely, the goodness and mercy of God demonstrated to us through Christ. But in addition to being grateful for these eternal promises, we are also thankful this year for our new son, Owen. We are thankful for how God has maintained and strengthened our marriage. We are thankful for a family who has supported us in our grieving. We are thankful for friends like you who have loved and supported us so well. On behalf of Heather, Owen and I, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and may you be able to “give thanks in all circumstances,” whether those circumstances easily lend themselves to praising God, or because of your hope, that through Christ, we will someday be grateful for what God has done in and through more difficult circumstances.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with the world. We have lost two children before birth, and I can't imagine how difficult your journey has been. Thank you for proclaiming God's faithfulness through the hard times!