Giving Thanks in All Seasons

…in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18 Amplified Bible)

When I was a young Christian, I could not understand how on earth I was supposed to obey that scripture and give thanks in EVERY situation…since obviously some situations in life were hard or just plain sorrowful. Yet as I got older, I began to realize the spiritual power that was hidden in this simple command found in First Thessalonians. Giving thanks changed me…and it also calmed my heart in the most challenging seasons of life by putting my focus on God. It took discipline to thank God in EVERY SITUATION, but once it became a habit, it became my “go to” response to difficulty and that simple practice has helped me tremendously over the years. The following story shares one of the most challenging moments I have experienced practicing the discipline of giving thanks in all seasons.

It was almost 11 pm in Tanzania on December 22nd when I got a call from my sister Margot in Florida. She sounded upset and was talking fast and I tried to take in the words. “It’s Dad…paramedics…CPR…I don’t think he’s coming back. I will call when we get to the hospital.”

It was quiet at that hour in the Mission House and shock was washing over me. A multitude of thoughts raced through my mind. The last time I saw him, the last words I said to him, the last hug I gave him. How grateful I was that I had been in Florida and seen him just a few weeks before. I sat staring at my cell phone, half-way across the world, waiting for another call to confirm what seemed inevitable. An hour later the call came. Our Dad was gone.

I began to think about how blessed I was to have had such a father and to thank God for him. I was flooded with memories of our adventures as children camping, canoeing and sailing in Florida. Our Dad was always in the center of it all. With six kids, our house was in constant motion, with sports and school activities keeping my parents running. But our father never seemed to tire of driving us to girl scout camping trips or school track meets. He always encouraged us that we could accomplish “anything” in life and we believed him.

Many years later, as we were getting ready to open the doors of Treasures of Africa, my father accompanied me to Tanzania to see it for himself and to help anyway he could. I remember him kneeling on the orphanage floor with the instruction sheet and all the parts for a crib spread out before him. He carefully assembled a crib that would cradle the precious life of many an abandoned baby over the years to come. Five years after we opened TOA, my father returned to Tanzania once again, wanting to see the children who had made Treasures of Africa their home. He was a great encourager of that special work.

Losing someone you love is very painful. Giving thanks to God for the gift of their life helps with the healing process. If you have a father, treasure every moment you have with him and make sure he knows how much you appreciate him.

If you are a father, be the best encourager of your children that you can be. Encourage every gift you see in each child. You will have a multi-generational impact through your words of encouragement just as my father had in my life.