You can now subscribe to A Norvell Note directly from the website by visiting www.anorvellnote.net.
This article was originally shared during Thanksgiving week in 2008. There was a lot going on at time…not so different from today.
Vol. 19 No. 46 | November 19, 2017
FOLLOWER: Lord, I was reading your words the other day and came across this. It’s in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
GOD: Yes, I remember. I asked my servant Paul to write that. Is there a problem?
FOLLOWER: Well yeah, I mean I try to do that, but it’s hard. I try to be as cheerful as I can. And I pray as much as I can. Almost all the time. Even over little stuff, like the ability to help me speak well on Your behalf, and even the words to write these articles.
GOD: That’s good. I’m proud of you. That’s what I hope for you.
FOLLOWER: Thanks, but that’s not really what the problem is. The problem I’m having is with that last part.
GOD: You mean the part about how I want you to live?
FOLLOWER: Yeah, and the part right before that, “thank God no matter what happens.” That’s not so easy, either.
GOD: Can you explain what you mean?
FOLLOWER: Well, for instance, I visited someone in the hospital the other day who just found out she has cancer. She and her husband have a great attitude about the treatment and seem very courageous. I prayed for them, for the ability to help them, and I tried to be as cheerful as I could. But how can I be thankful about cancer?
GOD: I understand, go on.
FOLLOWER: Okay, I’m working with several couples, trying to help them salvage their marriages. Some of them are in really rough situations. Some had terrible things happen to them in their past, which makes it hard for them handle their differences with kindness and treat each other in a loving way. They are unhappy and hurting. So what is there to be thankful for about unhappy and hurting?
GOD: I understand. Is there anything else?
FOLLOWER: Well yes. I mean, look at this world we are living in. It’s a mess. We are living in constant fear of an economic collapse. People are losing their homes, their jobs, their retirements, and their savings. And it’s only a matter of time before the next terrorist attack or school shooting. It all feels like sheer chaos. What is there to be thankful for about sheer chaos?
GOD: You do have a point. Are you finished?
FOLLOWER: I guess. So, can you help me understand all this?
GOD: I’ll be glad to help. That’s what I do. First, that lady with the cancer…
I understand that cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. I was with them before you got there, whe the doctor told them the news. They were scared, but I comforted them and assured them I would see them through this. They made a promise that, no matter what happens, they will live to honor me. I believe they both meant what they said. So although you can’t see this happening behind the scenes, when they demonstrate their faith in me, there is another couple watching them who will be encouraged by their example. Whether this woman lives another week or another thirty years, how she lives her remaining days and the way in which her husband loves and supports her will be beautiful examples of courage and devotion. I’m thankful for that. What about you?
FOLLOWER: Okay, I can see that.
GOD: Now, about those couples with marriage problems…
Some of them will not make it, no matter how hard they try or how hard you try to help. For some, maybe too much damage has been done. Or maybe they just aren’t willing to listen to our counsel. Or maybe they will decide it really is in everyone’s best interest to part ways. But there are some couples who will listen and do the work. And there are others who will part ways and find healthier, happier relationships. I’m thankful for all couples who find happiness in their relationships, aren’t you?
FOLLOWER: Absolutely! But, the ones that can’t make it work truly do break my heart.
GOD: That’s because you care so much about them, and I’m thankful for the way you love and care for them.
GOD: Now, let’s talk about the world. You are right, there is terrible suffering going on. People can be selfish, cruel and greedy. Many are destructive and determined to do things their way, not mine.
But don’t you also see so many people shining during these dark times? Isn’t it in times like these that churches finally get beyond their petty arguments and focus on helping to heal the sick, the lonely, and the broken? You are going to see people open their hearts and demonstrate kindness, generosity, and hospitality. You are going to see some surprising examples of people who will begin to truly love like they never realized they could. So as dark as these times appear to be, you are going to see amazing things happen. Just keep watching and have faith.
Does that help at all?
FOLLOWER: It absolutely does. I’ve never thought about things in that light and from that perspective. Thank you.
GOD: Oh, I think you would have come to some of these realizations eventually, but because you asked me to help you understand today…well, I heard you. You see, even though you don’t always feel cheerful or like you are truly grateful, you don’t stop trying to find joy, and you don’t stop praying. As long as you do those things, you will always find plenty of things to be thankful for.
FOLLOWER: Thank you for letting me ask these questions, for listening to me, and for helping me understand.
GOD: See? There you go again, being thankful.
And by the way, thank you for loving me.
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2008 and 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved