916) Thanking God in Difficult Circumstances

     Pastor H.B. Charles tells the following story about a woman he knew who showed up at church and prayed the same simple prayer.  “O Lord, thank you Jesus,” she prayed week after week.  The kids at church would start laughing every time she opened her mouth because they knew it would be the same prayer—”O Lord, thank you Jesus.”  Finally somebody asked her, “Why do you pray the same little prayer?”  She said, “Well, I’m just combining the two prayers that I know.  We live in a bad neighborhood and some nights there are bullets flying and I have to grab my daughter and hide on the floor, and in that desperate state all I know how to cry out is, ‘O Lord.’  But when I wake up in the morning and see that we’re okay I say, ‘Thank you Jesus.’  When I got to take my baby to the bus stop and she gets on that bus and I don’t know what’s going to happen to her while she’s away, I cry, ‘O Lord.’  And then when 3:00 P.M. comes and that bus arrives and my baby is safe, I say, ‘Thank you Jesus.’”  She said, “Those are the only two prayers I know and when I get to church God has been so good I just put my two prayers together, “O Lord, thank you Jesus.”  

–H.B. Charles, “A Psalm for Giving Thanks,” http://www.PreachingToday.com

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Ed Dobson  (1949- )

     In the fall of 2000, former megachurch pastor Ed Dobson was diagnosed with ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a degenerative disease with no known cause or cure.  In 2012 Dobson shared his ongoing struggle to give thanks while living with an incurable condition.  He writes:

There are many things for which I am not grateful.  I can no longer button the buttons on my shirt.  I can no longer put on a heavy jacket.  I can no longer raise my right hand above my head.  I can no longer write.  I can no longer eat with my right hand.  I eat with my left hand, and now even that is becoming a challenge.  And over time all of these challenges will get worse and worse.  So what in the world do I have to be grateful for?  So much.  Lord, thank you for waking me up this morning.  Lord, thank you that I can turn over in my bed.  Lord, thank you that I can still get out of bed.  Lord, thank you that I can walk to the bathroom …. Lord, thank you that I can still brush my teeth … Lord, thank you that I can still eat breakfast.  Lord, thank you that I can still dress myself.  Lord, thank you that I can still drive my car.  Lord, thank you that I can still walk.  Lord, thank you that I can still talk.  And the list goes on and on.  I have learned in my journey with ALS to focus on what I can do, not on what I can’t do.  I have learned to be grateful for the small things in my life and for the many things I can still do.  

–Ed Dobson, Seeing through the Fog (David C Cook, 2012), pp. 69-70

For more from Ed Dobson see:

http://edsstory.com/

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Psalm 103:1-2  —  Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Psalm 107:1  —  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.

Philippians 4:11b-13  —  I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I Thessalonians 5:18  —  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

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PSALM 86:1-4:

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.