Thankfulness…Even Through the Storms…Can It Be?

The view in our back yard as the sun went down last night.

The view in our back yard as the sun went down last night.

What are you thankful for?  Facebook has a thing where every day in the month of November, people tell what they’re thankful for on their daily status.  My mind always goes first to God, family and friends.  Then I have to work at it the rest of the month to come up with creative things for my page.  I could say, “Today, I’m thankful for ice cream.”  I really am thankful for ice cream.  It makes me happy and tastes good.  However, who wants to hear about that?

A couple of weeks ago, we had our local elections.  Many of you probably did, too.  On Wednesday morning after the elections on Tuesday  as I was on my way to work, one of the local candidates was standing in his suit and tie on the street corner with a huge sign that said, “Thank You!”  Wow.  I was so impressed.  Out of all of the candidates who ran for various offices and others who promoted issues of interest to them; this was the only person that I saw actually taking the time to thank his voters.  I am sure there probably were some thank you’s extended that I didn’t see.  However, it was so abnormal in my mind that this man would be out so early in the morning to thank his voters.  All I could think was, his mother has to be proud!  I’m going to watch for that name to be running for president someday!

Last night, tornados hit the Midwest with force, killing some and robbing many of their homes and businesses. Some of our kids were here visiting while we watched the television to determine whether we were in danger or not.  I was getting texts and calls from out of town family telling us to pay attention…the storms were coming right towards us.  There was even a point in the evening that all of the sirens started going off to tell us to get to our basements and the T.V. started making a horrible emergency noise to alert us of the danger outside.  Luckily we were only inconvenienced and had to eat dinner in the downstairs bathroom—all six of us.  Others weren’t as lucky.  My prayers go out to them.

One thing that kept resonating in my thoughts through all of the evening was something the weather man said.  He kept repeating, “We in this area were much better off than the states west of us because we had rain recently where they didn’t.”

Apparently, the rain stabilizes the atmosphere and was helpful in keeping us safe from the threatening winds on the way.  Without the rain, the atmosphere west of us was volatile and much more susceptible to the dangers ahead. Thus, the winds and storms did way more damage there than here.  Wow.  Doesn’t that sound like another lesson from God?  Some of us who go through tough times—rainy seasons in life so to speak—get mad and turn our backs on God wondering why He would let these bad things happen to us.  Then there are those who have had a pretty quiet life, not much ever going wrong that freak out off of the freak out charts when a trial comes their way.  They haven’t had a lot of practice in dealing with storms in life to have learned how to trust God and stay focused when the rain and winds begin.  However, it’s the trials in life that prepare us for the storms ahead.  They teach us to stay calm, trust God and actually help to stabilize the situation as our faith grows through each circumstance.  Having been through some cloudy days, I can look back now and realize they were situations that God used to strengthen and stabilize my faith as I trusted Him.  Now I can face a storm with confidence, knowing that God will be there with me.

So like the politician, perhaps we should be standing on the street corners with a big Thank You! sign in our hands when the winds rage around us!  God understands where we are, where we’ve been and knows exactly what it’s going to take to get us to where we need to go.  The next time the storms rage and the rain pours, praise God.  In fact, maybe we should go out and dance in the rain with thanks and praise on our lips.  For we know that even though it is raining, the Lord is allowing valuable faith lessons to pour into our lives to prepare us for the days ahead.

Please join me in praying for those hardest hit last night in the storms. I pray that even as horrendous as it all may seem, that God might be glorified in the days ahead.  Let there not be anger from the lips of those affected; rather, thankfulness for the hidden blessings after the winds.  In this month of November, what are you thankful for?  Can you look back at rainy times in your life and understand now how they have helped stabilize your faith? Can you see new insight today that you didn’t understand then?  Please share with us!  In the meantime, have a great week and don’t forget to get out there and be a blessing!

1Peter 1:6-7   In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Who Of Us Is Sure We Will Be Here Tomorrow?

As tornadoes ripped through the Midwest on Friday, many in the Cincinnati area stayed close to the T.V. for updates on where the storms were headed.  Relatives from out of town checked in with us too in order to make sure that we weren’t in the path of the storms.  Personally, I looked out and didn’t see much activity so I continued with my planned activities not thinking too much about it all.  I did send the kids texts though and told them to be aware as the weather may take a turn for the worse.

This is not the first time in my life I’ve been very close to a life-taking tornado as I lived in Springfield, OH when the Xenia, OH storms came through back in 1974.  They killed 32 people that day.  I was walking home from school when my great aunt and uncle sped up to where we were and told us to get into the car fast as the tornadoes were near.  Again, I thought to myself, they are certainly over-reacting; it’s probably not that bad.  However, it was and it was not that far away.

I’ve been told that I often look at life as a glass half-full versus those whose glass is always half-empty.  I think this can be harmful sometimes especially in cases like these.  I walk through life never thinking anything will happen to me or those I love; when in fact we could all be taken away this instant if God chooses to do so.  As Christians, I don’t think this attitude is always healthy.  If we have the attitude that our unsaved friends and family will be here the next time we get together so we can tell them about Jesus then, it may be too late.  We can’t go through life thinking, “We always have tomorrow.”  I am sure there were many who woke up in cities like Henryville, Indiana or West Liberty, Kentucky, and never once thought Friday might be their last.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in the storms and I hope that I never personally have to experience such a loss in my lifetime.  However, I think this week of tornadoes and tragedy is a wake-up call for those of us walking through life carefree.  I am not saying that we need to be all about doom and gloom.  However, I am saying that we should live every day as though it is our last.  None of us know what tomorrow brings.  Who do you need to talk to today?

James 4:13-14 (NKJV) Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Just as a note, there are many organizations taking donations for those affected by the storms.  Locally in Cincinnati, Matthew 25 Ministries is organizing an effort to help if you would like to drop off supplies or donate cash.  Visit their website to see items most in need.

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