Thanksgiving. Its power to transform any situation is something of a mystery. When someone gives thanks in the Bible, you often find a miracle close by. Jesus gives thanks before He breaks the five loaves and two fish to feed the five thousand. He lifts his eyes to heaven before he calls the four-day-dead Lazarus to come forth from his tomb.
Yesterday, I found myself waking up, again wrestling for hope. It’s been a hard week since my younger sister’s illness and then serious head injury after a fall resulted in emergency surgery and an uncertain future. The day before, she had lost all movement, all cognition.
On the way to the hospital for another day of waiting, I didn’t feel like it, but I went back to prayer and thanksgiving 101: Philippians 4:6-7:
- Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need,
- and thank him for all he has done.
- Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
- His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
I did what I know to be true—though I didn’t “feel” like it. As a former atheist, I seem to always be very pragmatic about taking God at His word. And I know that giving thanks in all circumstances is His will. I also know He is not offended if I watch and wait to see how His word comes true.
And so I gave thanks for what He had done, and what He would do in this ongoing trial. And I watched and waited for tiny signs of hope. I truly believe that giving thanks is an act of faith. I told God I would be on the lookout for small “seeds” of His work, diligent to thank him for each ray of hope.
I pulled into the usually jam packed hospital lot and a space opened right next to the door. Walking in, the security guard at the door took special interest in greeting me unusually warmly. I walked into my sister’s room. The MRI had revealed no stroke as feared the night before.
A doctor came by and administered a new medicine. And for a few seconds, there were signs of life, and a brief recognition on my sister’s part. He said this was a good sign. A glimmer of hope.
I’m not sure why, but the day was altogether different. I sensed little blessings for which to be thankful. We’re not out of the woods yet, by any means. And we have a long road ahead.
Each day, I learn anew that it’s healing and strengthening to give thanks while I wait, and especially to praise God for the little seeds that are part of what I trust will be a larger harvest.
Giving thanks somehow fuels my faith, which then gives hope. I can’t explain why it gives peace. But God knows what He is doing, and His word tells me not to worry, to pray, and to give thanks. His peace that passes understanding does just that—it bypasses my intellect. I don’t know how airplanes fly but I continue to travel. I don’t know why giving thanks works, but I am so grateful for the peace that it gives my heart.