Posted by: mikenicholsblog | November 24, 2016

live lives of thankfulness

Clouds, rain, and a little sleet are not the weather options I would have chosen heading into Thanksgiving.  But our family lives in Ohio, and it is November. So often in life our circumstances tend to cloud over the daily sense of thanksgiving that we want to enjoy.  And quite frankly, there are days that we feel like “when it rains, it pours.” So how can we live thankfully?

As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2016 today, a text that I received last week gave me pause to think about being thankful even on those “when it rains, it pours” days.  My wife and I have friends in Florida who are always the model of consistency and spiritual depth. But over a period of time spanning September through early November, the rain poured.  During that time, Linda and Jim experienced one tough circumstance after another.  Linda’s brother passed away after a short illness, and then her mother, who was blessed to live into her 90’s, grew weaker and also passed away. In the interim, Jim was leading a conference in Orlando and had been helped incredibly by his assistant.  Upon arriving for the conference, with a myriad of responsibilities, she became very sick and went to be with the Lord. And there’s more!  Amid all this, Jim fought a battle with Vertigo.  “When it rains, it pours!”

Last week, on the day of the funeral for Linda’s mother, I sent Jim a text and was a bit surprised by his response.  His words were, “God’s grace is amazing when you are in the middle of trials.” Most people, after a season like Jim and Linda had just experienced, don’t think about amazing grace, but about how drenched they are from a season of heavy rain. All believers in Christ have the capacity to respond like my friend did. After all, we believe in the sovereignty of God, and His great love and care. But often our viewpoints get clouded by long periods of consistent difficulty.  Jim’s words reminded me of how we can live.

One of my favorite authors, Henry Blackaby, gives even more perspective on difficult times in the book Experiencing God.  Henry and his wife were experiencing heavy rain as their daughter battled cancer.  Through it all, his viewpoint was focused on His Lord. He stated, “At times as I prayed about Carrie, I would see that behind her and her illness stood the cross of Jesus Christ. I said, ‘Father, don’t ever let me look at my difficult circumstances and question Your love for me. Your love was forever settled at the cross.’”  He focused on the love of God and trusted Him … no matter the outcome.

Christ-followers understand the cross, but looking at life through the lens of God’s love for us on that cross is a great perspective.  And then focusing on God’s grace in the middle of our clouds and heavy rains, like Jim and Linda did, shows the proper perspective in which to view difficulties. In Christ, all of this is possible!

So, what does all this have to do with Thanksgiving?  When I see the power of God’s love lived out, it challenges and encourages me.  None of us are exempt from clouds, rain or sleet. But when it rains, and pours — if we remember the cross, and think of His grace — we can live lives of thankfulness!

Thanks to our friends Jim and Linda for a great reminder. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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