A Thanksgiving Primer ~ Dancing in the Hard Times

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I’ve been going through some medical challenges recently that have reminded me that there’s an extensive list of things that I’ve taken for granted and never thanked God for because they seemed insignificant and ordinary. For instance, last night my sweet wife, who has doubled lately as my wonderful nurse and caretaker, leaned over and kissed me goodnight. It occurred to me that one the many things I’ve never really thanked God for is that He not only gave us lips, but He also gave us the capacity to pucker. If we couldn’t pucker, the whole kissing thing would be totally unavailable and when it comes to intimate expression, we would suffer with the same limitation as other animals . . . basically, licking and sniffing.

Little Changes–Big Difference ~
Can you imagine what that one little anatomical deficit would do to the final scenes in all those Hallmark Christmas movies? The beautiful, overachieving young professional woman visiting from the city could still come up with a way to save the town’s historic community center from being demolished by the greedy developer. The entire population would still gather out in the town square to pull the switch and watch their big Christmas tree light up. The heroine and her newly discovered soulmate would still be able to get that far away, romantic look as they gaze into each other’s eyes, but if they only had the flexibility of dog lips, things would have to change. Instead of their mouths moving toward each other for the heartwarming climactic kiss, he’d bend his head down real close and begin to sniff all around her neck and ears. Then as the snowflakes begin to fall and the camera moves in closer, he’d stick out his tongue and slowly lick a path across her face from her chin up to the corner of her left eye. See what I mean? Little things we take for granted can make a big difference.

I know that Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks off, but undergoing two significant surgical procedures rather close together has put me in a grateful mood. That experience has provided me with a fresh realization that even in the midst of our difficult times, there are things to praise Him for that are easily taken for granted. One of my favorite passages of Scripture illustrates the point, and maybe it will help get our praise mechanism in gear for the upcoming holiday.

Powerful Thanksgiving Words ~
I have tended for some time to add a Scripture reference beneath my signature in personal correspondence. The passage has significant personal meaning for me and its doctrinal contribution to Christianity is profoundly powerful. In expounding on the fact that our salvation is a gift offered by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, Paul declared this:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV)

The implications contained in these words are staggering. The passage declares that we have absolute freedom from the condemnation of the Law. Every sin is atoned for, every moral debt is paid, and our standing in His grace is secure forever. We are assured that His love is an abiding reality and that we have total peace with God that can be found nowhere else. These facts alone provide a basis for joy and a springboard for praise that words fail to adequately express, but the passage doesn’t end with those two verses. There’s an addendum that stimulates additional reasons to praise God even in the tough times. Paul followed up with this:

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)

Dancing in the Hard Times ~
Paul said that we not only rejoice in the glorious benefits of our salvation but that we also “glory in tribulation.” The word “glory” means to “exult,” but nobody talks like that anymore. What he means here is that we can do the “Snoopy Dance of Joy” even when suffering or loss comes our way and when life hands us something we’re not sure we can handle. That may sound crazy, but there’s a rationale for it.

  • When hard times, painful losses, and suffering come, God uses them to produce patient endurance that strengthens us and encourages others.
  • The patient endurance that hard times produce develops the kind of strong moral character that enriches our families and communities and that stands as a powerful deterrent to evil.
  • Strong moral character tempered in the fires of adversity instills hope and reinforces the faith that God’s love is not reserved for the good times alone and that the inevitable times of tribulation will both glorify Him and benefit us.

So, if we’re going through a rough patch right now, there are still things surrounding us every day to praise God for. The painful times will enrich each of us with things that both glorify Him and make life deeper and richer for us.

Now . . . If you’re having trouble getting your praise song started, you can at least thank God that we weren’t born with dog lips.

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  • The abiding reality of love and total peace with God can be found nowhere else.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
  • “ . . . hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
  • “Strong moral character tempered in the fires of adversity instills hope and reinforces the faith that God’s love is not reserved for the good times alone . . .” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)

Ron’s new book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth” is available now!

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About Ron Gallagher, Ed.S

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher, Humorist, Satirist, Blogger ... "Right Side Up Thinking ~ In an Upside Down World." For Ron's full bio, go to GallaghersPen.com/about/
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6 Responses to A Thanksgiving Primer ~ Dancing in the Hard Times

  1. John Barker says:

    These comments were exactly what Mary And I needed, we also have been traveling through a trying time with Mary’ Health. God Bless you, we needed this!!!

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    • Sorry to be so long in getting back to you, John. I’ve gotten inexcusably behind lately, but it was so encouraging to hear from you, John. Diane and I continue to pray for you and Mary and are trusting the Lord that He will provide healing grace and sustaining strength at exactly those points when it most benefits you and most glorifies Him. We pray that His presence will be unmistakable in these challenging days and that there will be an increasing list of things that fuel your Thanksgiving and that plants seeds of faith in those around you.

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  2. Rebekah Robb says:

    So glad you are recovering and praising the Lord.

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    • What a blessing it was to hear from you, Rebekah, and I’m sorry that I’m so behind in getting back to you. Healing is going on and I’m making progress, but complications in the most recent procedure made my recovery this time around much slower than I had hoped. I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving and that God will continue to make you fruitful as you write and teach and encourage others.

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  3. Ron, I hope you are well on the mend! Yes, we are supposed to give thanks, and to count our blessings, no matter how small, in the good times and the bad. Now, that dog lip imagery really gave me “paws,” but I love the image of the joyful Snoopy dance!
    Blessings!

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    • Please forgive me (again) for my slow responses, Martha. I’m making progress, but it’s a lot slower than I wanted it to be. I loved the comment about the piece giving you “paws”. Our prayer is that your Thanksgiving celebrations are full of the kinds of things that make happy memories for years to come and that God will continue to bless you for your faithful stand for Christ and your encouraging support of our ministry.

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