This has been a tough few months. The American voter has been bombarded with what could reasonable be called the most divisive Presidential election in our history. It's been ugly. Two pitifully mediocre candidates traveled the country slinging stinging insults and accusations across previously well drawn party lines…the result…chaos on all fronts. Sadly, all of their accusations regarding the other were probably true. We have a deficit of rain in the southeast…a bad deficit. It’s dry; the mountains are on fire from South Carolina to Alabama, and my yard is a bit crunchy. The Georgia Bulldogs can’t seem to win a game this year, and, oh, by the way, my father had heart failure. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse… I could go on, but I won’t. There’s already enough bad news in the world, and even it is reported inaccurately by the mainstream media. So, let’s concentrate on something good for a moment…please.
Invariably, bad times arrive. When they do, it’s not with a gentle knock, instead, the bad times kick the front door down, track muddy footprints on the carpet, and they leave the refrigerator door open, directly after drinking straight out of the milk jug. The bad times are unwanted visitors in our life who, like your crazy uncle, come for a quick visit, and six months later they just can’t seem to find their way off the couch to the door.
My father’s heart failure situation has already hung around long enough to lose the welcome it was never offered in the first place. It just arrived unannounced, and it took over our lives and almost claimed his. But, you know, I am thankful for it. The Bible tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), not because we should naturally have an affection for both the good and the bad, but because “this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” So,for the sake of my faith in the perfection of God's will, I’m thankful for my dad’s health struggle. Frankly, it saved his life.
This past Thursday, we gathered at Pruitt Healthcare in Forsyth, GA and enjoyed the company of family, as a family…a living, breathing, alive and well family. Had things transpired differently in this situation, my beautiful mother and I would have celebrated together in her home surrounded by God’s love, the love shared between a mother and her child, and an empty chair where my father “used” to sit. It pains me to even think of it; Thanksgiving would have certainly been a different celebration. Life, from that point forward, would have been different. We would have been thankful for my father’s life, my parents’ incredible marriage, and we would have laughed and cried as we remembered the countless times of fun, laughter, and love that we all shared as a family…but, we didn’t have to do any of that.
This Thanksgiving, mom and I shared a small Thanksgiving meal together at home before leaving to visit a husband and father who, by God's grace, has emerged victorious on the other side of complete heart failure. Our Thanksgiving was celebrated in a small room, sitting in uncomfortable chairs around a hospital bed, but it could not have been any more perfect. You see, last Thursday, we sat in a rehabilitation room in Forsyth, GA where the will, the grace, the mercy, and the power of God was playing out right before our very eyes. That will, grace, mercy, and power was reflected in my father’s presence, his life, his laughter, his smile…and it was not overlooked. This past Thursday represented the best Thanksgiving that I have ever experienced, because I still have my dad in this world. God has been good; He has certainly been much more than good.
I’m so thankful to the hundreds of people who have prayed for my family during this time. Those prayers were heard, and they were answered by a God who continues to amaze me with His goodness, His attentiveness to detail, and, most importantly, His relentless love. That love has been on full display. It’s been easy to see, and I’ve been watching.
In the midst of global chaos, difficult economic times, poor governance, racial animosity, health concerns, etc…God is still firmly seated on His throne. He has not surrendered His sovereignty to our insecurities or bad mood. Our recklessly fragile faith has not diminished His power, and it has not tarnished His love for us. He has surrounded us with His love, and we should be paying attention!
We’re past the planned celebration of a national Thanksgiving, but let’s continue on into a planned mindset of daily thankfulness for the blessings of life. It’s been said that chance favors the prepared mind. I would suggest that thankfulness favors the prepared mind, as well.
Prepare your mind to find God’s blessings, His grace, His mercy, and His power everyday…everywhere…even in the bad things. The beauty of God’s blessings so often emerge from between the rugged cracks of turmoil and fear. It’s not that those blessings couldn’t be seen elsewhere; God just knows that’s where we’ll be looking.
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Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!