What a year this has been. There have been ups and downs. Exciting moments and disappointments.
But this Thanksgiving, as every Thanksgiving in the past, I have far more to be thankful for than I have to be disappointed about.
Truthfully, as Christians, we should find things to be thankful for even in the midst of our disappointments.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “we are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed.”
Paul had a laundry list of things to be down about. He was beaten, jailed, and ridiculed countless times. He was even stoned for his proclamation of Christ.
Yet, Paul could say things like, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us- ward” in Romans chapter eight.
Not sure about you, but I’ve never been beaten because of my love for Jesus. I’ve never been thrown into jail or stoned because I trusted in and proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are many around the world who face this reality on a daily basis, however.
One of the more publicized cases is that of American pastor Saeed Abedini who has been imprisoned in Iran for practicing Christianity.
Abedini, an American citizen, has been forsaken by our country’s leadership and is being forced to reside in one of the most hostile prisons in Iran. All for his confession of Christ.
One of the more potent reminders of how Christians are treated in the Middle East came in the form of a picture of Coptic Christians praying in a burned out church in Egypt.
Two weeks ago we learned of Christians going before firing squads in North Korea.
The plight of the Church in China is all too familiar with those of us who regularly pray for their safety.
So, you, American Christian, really have nothing to be disappointed about compared to what our brothers and sisters face on a daily basis in many regions of the world.
And what about our brothers and sisters in the Philippines who recently faced one of the worst typhoons in history and still showed up to church, or what was left of it.
We will have our pick of churches to attend this weekend. We won’t have to hide in a basement to worship. We won’t be faced with threat of imprisonment or death just because we evangelize.
I would urge you all to give thanks to God for everything in your life today–the good, the bad, and even the ugly. You are blessed far beyond what you deserve.
While you give thanks today, please also say a prayer for our brothers and sisters across the world who have every right to be disappointed and unthankful, yet still give God glory in the face of oppression.
Lord, today I bless Your holy name. There is none like You. No one can stand against You, and no earthly power compares to You. I thank you for the many blessings in my life. Family–my beautiful wife and three children, and parents who raised me to fear & love You.
I thank You for my church family, my job, my home, my car, everything You’ve provided. I thank You for every good thing You’ve given. But Lord, I also give You glory for the disappointments.
That time when I thought I had the job of my dreams only realize it wasn’t going to happen. I’m thankful that You allowed my freelance sports writing gig to end which allowed to me to step into the ministry You’ve called me to.
I’m thankful for the health scare I had in April when my blood pressure was ridiculously high and I could barely walk uphill without having to stop and catch my breath. Without that experience I might not have lost 84-pounds in six months. Oh, and thank You for the grace you’ve given to stay focused in that journey.
Lord, You know I’d be here all day if I had to recall everything I’m thankful for. But as the days, months, and years pass, I’ll never cease to give You all the praise for everything in my life–good and bad.
Lord, I want to pray for my Christian brothers and sisters across this world who cannot serve you without the fear of jail or death. I pray for Pastor Saeed. I also pray for the American leaders who have forsaken him.
I pray for Christians all over Asia who have to hide to worship You. I pray for the oppressed Christians in the Middle East. Lord, please continue to comfort and help those in the Philippines as they recover from the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. I also pray for the continued peace and prosperity of Israel. I pray all these things, in the matchless name of Jesus, amen.