Last week, my husband & I went to see a documentary on modern-day sex slavery.
It opened my eyes to the challenges, economic, political, emotional and spiritual, of addressing this type of slavery. My heart both broke and soared at the victories and obstacles in the real-life stories of women who are trying to come out of prostitution.
Yesterday morning, I read the blog post of a woman named Sarah Lenssen. She started the Ask5for5 campaign in an effort to help families suffering from famine in the Horn of Africa. Two of her children were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought that is causing millions to go hungry.
Sarah brought tears to my eyes when she said:
If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother’s hungry child?
I have NEVER once opened my cabinets and found nothing to eat for my children. Never. In fact, my cabinets literally overflow with food. Roy & I will adopt a child at some point (we are homestudy-ready and waiting). Is our child (or children) out there going hungry right now? I wept and prayed at the mere thought.
After reading this, I headed to a moms group I attend. A member of this group died of cancer on Tuesday. She was 36, married, with 2 daughters, age 5 & 12.
I didn’t know her, as I joined this group a year ago when she was already in intense treatment. But I’ve been praying for her. Yesterday as the moms group gathered, there was much pensiveness, gratitude, and grief.
It all makes me thankful for every breath. We’re not promised another.
I have been praying for many sick relatives and loved ones this week, people facing unfathomable challenges. On Monday, I happened to pick up a little book off my shelf that was recommended by a relative. This book talks about the importance of giving thanks in all circumstances. I can’t say I completely agree with some of the author’s theological conclusions, but his thoughts encouraged me to search the Scriptures for myself.
Upon study, I found the Bible implores us over 60 times to “give thanks”, as translated in the NASB. Over 60 times, God commands we give thanks!
Here are a few examples:
1 Chronicles 16:34
O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O LORD, for it is good.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the LORD; And in the midst of many I will praise Him.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
I think Paul summed it up when he said the following:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Give thanks in everything? Really? I should give thanks when I get sick? When my car breaks down? When my bank account is empty?
The answer is YES.
I gave this a try today when I suddenly had a bad headache. It was time to get my younger son down for a nap, and he was not giving up without a fight!
The best I could come up with was this: “God, thanks that I have a head. If I didn’t have a head, I wouldn’t have this headache right now. I’m really thankful I have a head.”
I know, I know, kind of pitiful. But that’s a start!
Honestly, I have a good life. It’s hard at times, but I have SO much to be thankful for.
Gratitude flows naturally when I compare my present circumstances to the challenges others are facing. Gratitude causes us to get our eyes off ourselves for a minute. It challenges us to look at the bigger picture, to ask for God’s perspective, to get a glimpse of His tender heart for us and others.
It’s God’s will that we give thanks in everything.
What are you grateful for today? What can you praise God for? What difficult circumstance can you thank Him for?
Today, I’m thankful for breath. I’m thankful for my boys, who keep “interrupting” me as I try to write this. I think I’ll end with that and go hang out with them!
Aren’t they sweet?
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:7