November 28, 2013, by Todd Neva
One thousand nine hundred fifty years ago, from a dank, dim Roman prison, chained to the wall, wrongly charged, awaiting trial, but as a Roman citizen likely facing a relatively humane execution of being beheaded, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And to the church in Thessalonica, Paul wrote, “[G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
One hundred fifty years ago, a nation divided, after just two years of civil war, 366,000 men already dead, and the bloody carnage of 46,000 Americans in one epic battle alone near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July of the prior summer, millions of Americans still enslaved, President Abraham Lincoln invited his fellow citizens to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Today, three and half years since a terminal diagnosis, heading toward the point of total paralysis, continued loss of independence, I celebrate this day, set aside one hundred fifty years ago, to give thanks, mindful that the Apostle Paul and President Lincoln were each brought to his knees before the Almighty God, humbled by the pain and despair of this world, yet seeing God’s goodness and provision. God doesn’t promise a pain-free life. God doesn’t promise that we will never face circumstances more than we can bear—just that He will not let us be tempted beyond our ability. And here is a temptation: to be ungrateful.
God, give me the strength to be thankful in all circumstances in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen