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Daily Devotion

Thanksgiving is Past, but Its Lesson Lingers

By Kay W. Camenisch

My husband and I care for his 91-year-old father. Almost two months ago, Dad fell backward down a flight of steps. Fortunately, he did not break anything, but he was bruised badly and hospitalized for observation.

A few days later, he was moved to rehab within the hospital. But complications developed and rehab was delayed. A few days later, he had a day of therapy, and then more complications.

And so it has continued, with pain and suffering continuing, with hopes rising and falling day to day. A move from the hospital to the rehab center brought real hope that he might be able to come home some day.

But the string of physical issues continue to hamper progress. Some cause disruptive pain and discomfort. Others are potentially life threatening, as Dad waits expectantly to once again greet his wife who has gone before him and see Jesus face to face.

When someone has led a full, productive life and is ready to move on to his eternal home, it's hard to not question God's purposes when pain and suffering continue week after week.

This Thanksgiving—because it was the season when we're reminded to give thanks—in the midst of these ups and downs of elder-care, I've been impacted by 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

In the midst of going to the hospital and to rehab every day and day after day of pain and suffering, I've kept reminding myself that I need to give thanks in everything. Even if the therapy has been interrupted once again, even if we might have to bring him home needing skilled care around the clock, I need to give thanks.

I may have questions about treatment, about what tomorrow may bring, or about God's purposes, but I don't have questions about God's will for me. I am to give thanks—in everything.

It becomes even more difficult when I read Ephesians 5:20 and it says to always give "thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Giving thanks for all things takes it to a new level.

How can you be thankful for hardship? Life is often hard. Sometimes, it's really hard. Our trial is small compared to many. I don't believe it's possible to give thanks for all things if you don't know and trust God.

I believe that the only way to give thanks for all things—and be sincere about it— is to truly believe in the goodness and the sovereignty of God.

During difficult trials, I need to be confident that:

• The Lord loves me.
• He's good all the time and His mercies are new every morning.
• Nothing befalls me without His permission.
• He is the ultimate wisdom, power, and authority.
• He has a purpose in allowing this trial.
• He works all things together for my good because I love him and am called according to His purposes.
• Life is not about me. It's about God. His greater purpose is to use all things for His glory and the building of His kingdom. Therefore, I can be thankful for all things.

I know God is sovereign. In my head, I know those things are all true.

Thanksgiving is past. However, now, when life is hard and I have a difficult time thanking God, I'll be aware of the gap between what my head knows and what my heart believes.

Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief.

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Kay W. Camenisch is the author of Uprooting Anger: Destroying the Monster Within. She has been published in The Upper Room and The Lookout. Contemporary Drama has published one of her plays, and she is a regular contributor to a newspaper column. Send Kay your comments.

Kay is also a pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother. She has worked closely in ministry with her husband, including in local churches, as missionaries in Brazil, working with a church school, training young adults to mentor troubled youth, and establishing and directing a ranch for troubled young men. Visit Kay's Web Site

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