Dear Fellow Children of God,
Do you ever catch yourself being unthankful, or even complaining? I have recently made some comments that, even though they were not meant that way, could be taken as complaints.
· I’ve had the privilege of doing a lot of fishing again this year. But I have shared that I haven’t caught as many fish this year as I did last year.
· We have had a beautiful summer in Alaska this summer. But I have commented that the fish don’t like to bite when the sun shines brightly on the rivers.
· I told some people that I recently saw a bull moose, a nice big one, and I had my harvest tag and my gun. But, the moose was standing right next to a “Posted, No Hunting” sign.
Those words weren’t meant to be complaints. I was responding to questions and sharing stories that interested those with whom I was talking. But, even if I had not meant to complain, you know as well as I do that my words could be taken as complaints and even being ungrateful.
I share my comments knowing that fishing and hunting are not really that important in the big scheme of life. Sometimes people can complain, myself included, even when things are going well. Shouldn’t I be grateful for the opportunity to fish, for good weather, and for the privilege of seeing wildlife? Yet, even when things are going well, we can still complain.
I share this because this past week I heard just the opposite from members and friends of St. John. I heard one family tell me about the blessings they have received from a stroke. Another family shared their thankfulness at God’s goodness in the middle of the recurrence of cancer signs. I heard another family thank God for the joy of being part of our congregation in the middle of many, many trials. Now these people had something to complain about! But in the midst of the trials of life they saw the presence of God, trusted His help, and spoke words of thanks and praise.
In 1 Thessalonians 5 God speaks through Paul to give instructions for Christian living. Verses 16-18 tell us, “16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” Did you hear that? Give thanks in all circumstances. The truth is that God can and does take even the trials of life and make them blessings. We know that deep down. God took the suffering and death of His son, and used Jesus’ dying and rising to bring forgiveness to sinners and eternal life to people who face death. That’s us.
God is present even in our difficulties and tragedies. We may have trouble seeing God’s blessings at first, but sometimes when we look back we can see God’s hand. I know a pastor friend who once had a horrible auto accident. But when he was in surgery the doctors found cancer that he didn’t know he had. The accident actually helped the doctors treat him for the cancer early, and may have saved his life. Looking back, this accident showed God’s presence in the midst of trouble. This experience helped build faith and character for my friend, and for me.
God promises He is always with us. Faith helps us to remember God’s presence and trust His blessings even when life is full of pain and loss. I witnessed that faith this last week as I heard words of thanks and praise in the middle of life’s trials. When we know God is with us we don’t have to complain, we can “Give thanks in all circumstances.”
A Child of God, Seeking Have Faith and Give Thanks,
P.S. All our grandchildren were at our home on Sunday afternoon. Here is a picture. https://picasaweb.google.com/114993745799525883148/FunWithTheGrandchildren8232015
P.P.S. On Friday I only kept one of the fish I caught, but it was my biggest salmon of the year. https://picasaweb.google.com/114993745799525883148/FishingSummer2015#6188296386375170066
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.