Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanks be to God

Orange leaves by Darren Hester. PixelPerfect Photos Online: once read a quote that said that "if there were no God we would be in this world of wonder with grateful hearts and no one to thank."

Indeed, we have much to be thankful for.

Perhaps there are those who - like the victims of Hurricane Katrina or the families who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq - might find it hard to thank God for this year. And the last thing I want to do is minimize or in any way lessen the importance of what happened to the folks in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. But even in the midst of devastating natural disaster or war, we have much to be thankful for.

I got an example of this earlier this week. A colleague of mine has a son who was in Afghanistan for three months. He is a soldier, and I guess every soldier knows that dying is a part of his business. But I also know this man's father, a Vietnam vet, was poignantly aware of what sending his son to Afghanistan could mean.

We told the father we would pray for his son to return safe, and last week, he did. He came home, in his father's words "with no more holes in him than the standard number for humans." And I was deeply grateful.

Partially I was grateful for the young man's return, but I was most grateful that God had answered our prayer! But I also saw the names of those who did not come home - 19 and 20 and 21 year olds who will never see another Thanksgiving. And I was grateful for them too.

We also received a World Vision notice about helping people in the developing world through donating a cow, or a goat, or chickens, or building a school, or donating a radio for education. And the lives of these people - the large majority of them children - are heartbreaking. But we can do something about them. There are still lives that can be changed. We can take the cost of our Thanksgiving dinner, and change their lives forever.

Something to consider as you make your way through the maddening crowds tomorrow.

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