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Thanking God IN...

Today was a gift.



Ken and I sat on wooden stools next to a roaring fire at yet another Columbus coffeehouse as the wind gusted and the snow flurried just outside the cozy setting of The Junto Hotel lobby. Again – I was only too aware of just how grateful I am to have Ken as my person.

 

He asked me questions. He listened to my answers. I felt heard. I asked him questions. I listened to his answers. I believe he felt understood.

 

These moments are dear to me. It is time together that helps me see my “why” more clearly. We talk about possibilities, the way forward, and sometimes just sit in the present – in what “is.”

 

We gain clarity about our pasts, our present and what could be by bringing to the table (or the fireplace) our perspectives of what has happened and what is happening in our lives.

 

Maria Shriver in The Sunday Paper today said this, “My mother’s health issues, her sister’s intellectual disability, and their mother’s pain and quest for answers all led to this greater purpose. Pain can lead to purpose, and purpose leads you to people…being an advocate for something bigger than you will always, always, always trump just focusing on yourself.”


She went on to talk about the community that is crucial in order for a dream to take the shape of a real entity of change and hope for those who work toward it.

 

Next, I was reading Diana Butler Bass in “The Cottage” where she spoke of 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18. Paul was speaking as if they were the end times 2,000 years ago! They were in pain, they lived in troubled times of persecution, and he continued telling people to live in faith, hope and love. He didn’t want his people to give in to despair. 

 

Does this sound familiar to you?!?! I cannot tell you how many people have talked about “end times” in THESE days we are in. But they usually are talking about this in the sense that Christ will come back to take us OUT of our trials and tribulations because we are somehow supposed to AVOID all the pain. But, that is NEVER how I have seen Christianity. I do not see Jesus as an ESCAPE from such things.

 

Whether it is you or someone you love dealing with cancer, a divorce, a narcissist who is bludgeoning those around them, a feeling of overwhelm because of spiraling rent costs while trying to keep food on the table, or…the ever-looming Trump/Biden debates, etc…

 

It just seems we are all so weary of it all…the fighting, the fear of ‘losing’ to the other side, the exhaustion of yet another presidential campaign and election year – need I go on?!?! No! Let’s not! Ha!

 

I LOVE what Bass says about this passage of scripture that many have misinterpreted and misrepresented. She wants to “clarify” one simple word in the passage mentioned above. She believes this will help us keep on in the dark days.

 

Here is what she says, “So when you come to a circumstance of injustice, when you come to a circumstance of oppression, when you come to a circumstance of sickness or illness or some other problem that seems insurmountable, you can still give thanks THROUGH it and not FOR it.”

 

That little word in verse 18 that many translate “for” is actually IN and THROUGH the circumstance. Many have used these verses as a way of saying that what we are experiencing is God’s will when in actuality if the gospel is good news for everyone, everywhere we must reckon with what chaos the world is experiencing right now KNOWING that God is not orchestrating the chaos – God longs to reconcile and unite all of creation through LOVE.

 

Amid every circumstance there is the promise of “God with us – Immanuel.”

 

Therefore, I am not alone in my pain – in fact there is hope that the pain can be an impetus for action, for change, for bringing hope to those who are oppressed.  You know – “being an advocate for something bigger than you.” (Thanks Maria!)

 

Already – our pain has led us to people IN pain. We have advocated for the homeless, stood with our friends and family in the LGBTQIA+ community, been in conversation with those who would oppress, walked with those who are being marginalized, spoken up with those who feel their voices being suppressed, and all of this has come as a natural response to PAIN. Our pain has drawn us closer to people.

 

And, these people have become beacons of light in very dark places reminding us that each and every one are Image Bearers of God.  

 

Our lives are forever marked by the courage and strength, wisdom and perseverance of these precious ones who are walking in faith and love.

 

Greater purpose?! Yes! LOVE spurs us on amid the ruins.

Hope is budding again where despair had trounced every last ounce of life out of the blossoms.

For our dreams are about freedom, hope, love and faith IN THE MIDST of persecution and pain. And not just our own –

 

Our hope is NOT for escape (the end times) but for the possibilities of living out love on earth now – in a purpose much bigger than ourselves.

 

Today, I give thanks that pain has birthed Love More Less Fear.

Today, amid uncertainty, I give thanks that people matter more than ideas, and these people are teaching me that we can find purpose through our pain.

Today, I thank God for moments of deep gratitude even as I continue to struggle with the circumstances of the day.

Today, I am grateful for you.

Today, I am thankful for Ken.

Today, I will “…rejoice, pray, give thanks IN all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you (me) in Christ Jesus.”         I Thess. 5:16-18 





(Always have to have a crazy pic!)

           


(We celebrated Mom Garner's Birthday!)

<My Nephew!!! Yahoo!!!

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