In Everything... For Everything

  • Nov. 20, 2006
  • #6406

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and it reminds me of a time I was once discussing the subject of gratitude with a friend who had broken her ankle. For her, being on crutches wasn't fun. There were appointments and travel plans she had to cancel. She was struggling to get around her house. Driving was an impossibility. Her shoulders were getting sore. Having a broken ankle was no picnic. I wanted to say to her; actually, I think I did say to her, "You think a broken ankle's no picnic? Try a broken neck!"

But it got us talking and it got us examining Bible verses about being grateful. My friend said, "Joni, I can accept a verse like I Thessalonians 5:18, 'Give thanks in all circumstances...'" she then sighed, looking at her leg cast, "but I don't think I could give thanks for this clunky thing."

Something about her comment troubled me. We're willing to thank God in the midst of their circumstances. We thank Him for his grace, comfort, and sustaining power. But we draw a line when it comes to the circumstances themselves. We segregate God from the suffering he allows, as though a broken ankle merely "happens," and God shows up after the fact. We don't thank God for the problem; we're just thankful for finding him in it. Know what I mean?

But listen to this verse I shared with my friend. Ephesians 5:19 starts off by, saying, "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." That verse like none other underscores the supreme sovereignty of God over all afflictions. The apostle Paul, who, as we know, endured his fair share of tragedies and troubles, never considered his circumstances as tragic. He tells the believers he knew back then and he tells us today that we should be, "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

I give God thanks for my quadriplegia. It wasn't easy to do in the beginning, but after I gave thanks in it, Jesus took me a step further to where I could give thanks for it. My paralysis has become the strange, awful friend that helps me to know Jesus better. It is the dark, shadowy companion that walks with me daily, pulling and pushing me into the arms of Jesus where I find grace and comfort. My quadriplegia is the severe, terrible mercy; it's the bruising of a blessing. 

And you know what, friend? Your affliction, your trials and troubles fall well within the overarching decrees of God. That problem comes from his wise and kind hand and for that, you can give thanks in it, and dare I say, for it. 

AL: And, Joni, I'm reminded that in heaven we'll thank God He brought us through it! 

JONI: Hallelujah! And that's something to be extra grateful for this Thanksgiving season!

© Joni and Friends

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