>We have a lot for which we are thankful. My family is especially thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on us. We are thankful for the outpouring of love and caring from so many people in recent days. In fact, words cannot describe how kindhearted and sacrificial folks have been for us.

I have already posted some of my thanks on my wife’s blog here.

We have been trough a lot in the past two weeks. I have often thought of the Thanksgiving holiday as a kind of throwaway holiday – a day off work and good food but not much more. I always figured we should be thankful all the time anyway, and I’m not into the traditional American mythologies about its history, etc. My feelings have not changed about most of that, but this Thanksgiving has an added dimension. This year we give thanks while my wife is still in the hospital recuperating from a near death experience – that is, I am thankful she and my daughter are still alive.

I wrote in more detail about the experience here and what it means to us.

I have wondered often how one can sometimes be more thankful when in the midst of suffering than in more typical circumstances. I look back on the time when our little family went on the difficult journey of a hard pregnancy, emergency c-section, heart surgery, meningitis, and then death. I look back with wonder and remember how hard it was and also how I felt so grateful and close to God. I felt close to God because he came close to me when I needed it but did not deserve it. We made some great friendships, had others strengthen and deepen, and came to know ourselves in ways we never imagined. I learned how fierce my wife can be when it comes to her children. I learned how gracious and giving our friends and family can be. And now we are experiencing something similar again. I was and am thankful for that experience even though I would not wish it on anyone.

Why God would have us go through these things I don’t know, except that I know deep in my soul it is because he loves us. At the end of the book of Job God comes to Job and gives his answer. In short God does not say why, only that God is God. We are always looking for the “why.” If the answer is that I come to know that much better the nature of the relationship between me and God I am happy. If I become wiser I rejoice. If I learn to love more fully with a genuine spirit then I know I am that much closer to Heaven and its glories.

In times like these theology seems to take a back seat, but not as much as one might think. Not all is emotion when there is suffering. How we understand suffering is always grounded on how we answer the big questions. Is God all powerful? Is he sovereign over reality? If so, just HOW sovereign? Does life have meaning and purpose? If so, does suffering as well? How we answer these questions profoundly guides our response to suffering. Sometimes we can know where we stand on these questions when we listen closely to our prayers.

When we were in the midst of holding out for hope with our second daughter and she was fighting for her life, the terrible tsunami overwhelmed Indonesia. Many, many thousands of people died in that disaster. We had our one life to worry and pray for, but our suffering was only a fragment of what was happening on the other side of the world. I found myself at that time thanking God that we were not going through what those people were going through. I was actually thankful that our suffering was merely difficult and heartbreaking rather than devastating. We can learn from degrees of suffering. As I write this, and as my wife is in pain, and as our daughters cannot climb easily into her arms, I know that much of the world is starving. I know that millions of children have no parents or clean water or adequate health care. I know that, for all my suffering, I live in relative luxury. Suffering reminds me of these things and shows me how complacent and selfish I have become. I live too much for myself and not enough for others. Jesus is my example and I am not a very good disciple. But I know God is faithful and I trust he will create in me a new heart.

I have much to be thankful for.

The name of this blog is not inspired by the pilgrims who had that first Thanksgiving. Here the word pilgrim has everything to do with the journey I am on. In part it is inspired from Pilgrim’s Progress. In part it is from the idea of going on a pilgrimage. I often feel that I am a sojourner in a foreign land. I long for my true homeland, which is not the United States of America, rather it is someplace infinitely better. But I am still glad I live in this country – but not necesarrilly more glad than if I was living in another good country, of which there are many. So my thanks is not so much that I am an American, but that I have been blessed in so many ways and that God can be trusted.

In closing, I must say I am thankful for my family. My wife is my love and my joy. My kids are wonderful lights that brighten my life. The community in which we live supports and loves us. And God continues to pour out his blessings on us, though we do not deserve them.

3 thoughts on “>thanks

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