1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ( KJV )
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When I was about 18, I bought an old, 1967 Chevy Belair. I paid around $600 for it. It wasn’t much to look at. The paint was a dull, nasty brown. The sun and weather had long ago taken the shine out of the finish. There wasn’t much rust on the car, but it was rusted through around the top two thirds of the driver’s side mirror, so that the mirror would kind of vibrate and wave as you drove down the road. I really thought it would fall off some day, but it hung on like a child begging for candy at Walmart. The interior was worn. There were no fancy features: just hand-crank windows and an AM radio.
After we were married, and we had our brand new blue ’74 Chevy Malibu (a wedding gift), Old Brown was kind of neglected. I hadn’t started it for months. But there came a cold winter’s day when it was time for us to leave for the day’s college classes (about a 45 minute drive), and “New Blue” wouldn’t start. So we got into the Old Brown Chevy, turned the key, and that beautiful 283 engine roared instantly to life. Once again, it got us where we needed to go.
The old song says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God has done!” This time of year is a time to count blessings, to reaffirm relationships, to remember that things are never hopeless, and to renew hopes and dreams for the future.
A person who has forgotten the simple skill of counting their blessings will soon focus on the negative. The negatives are there, to be sure. Life is seemingly always filled with problems. If you want to focus only on the problems, you certainly can do that – but it will only make you more miserable, and misery will turn to unthankfulness, and unthankfulness will turn to hopelessness, and hopelessness will turn to bitterness. God is not on an ego trip when he says “in everything, give thanks”. He is simply giving us one of the keys to a victorious, and joyful life.
Tough times can teach us valuable lessons. They become sort of bittersweet memories, etched in our minds. We look back on some years with a mixture of sorrow – because they weren’t perfect, and of joy – because of things we experienced while we went through difficulties: the loving touch or words from concerned friends; a realization that there are people who truly care about us; a greater presence of the Lord in our lives; lessons learned in the journey. We know that “trials”, as the Bible calls them, are part of what makes us grow in Jesus – they are the refining of the gold in our lives.
There are years that we live through that are like that Old Brown Chevy: not pretty, not fancy, certainly not perfect. Perhaps those years are like a vehicle that God uses to move us down life’s highway, one step closer to where He wants us to be. They are like that Old Brown Chevy: they get us where we need to go.
This Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for what I have and I am hopeful for what God will do. I’m thankful that God has the power to move in ways that I could never even imagine. He can solve problems where my mind is incapable of seeing a solution. He is still God, He still has it all in control, He still loves me, and He is still with me. And for that, I am thankful!