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 the opportunity to undergo 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 I’d like to make, and maybe it will help get our praise mechanism in gear for the upcoming holiday.
Powerful Thanksgiving Words ~
There’s a Scripture reference that I have tended to add beneath my signature for some time now because the passage is profoundly powerful and it holds significant personal meaning for me. 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 of these words are staggering–absolute freedom from condemnation of the Law–every sin atoned for, every moral debt paid, a place in His grace where we stand secure forever, and the abiding reality of love and total peace with God that can be found nowhere else. The basis for praise and a glorious sense of joy in these facts is indescribable, but the passage doesn’t end with those two verses. There’s an addendum that stimulates additional reasons to praise Him that are designed exclusively for 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 do the “Snoopy Dance of Joy” when the hard times come, when suffering or loss comes our way, when life hands us something we’re not sure we can handle. That sounds crazy. Why would we do that?
- 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, even if you’re going through a rough patch right now, there are things surrounding us every day to praise God for. The painful times will produce things in all of us that make life deeper and richer and that will glorify Him. Now . . . If you’re having trouble getting your praise time started, you can at least thank God that we weren’t born with dog lips, right?
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “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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