Pastor’s Pen

It is hard to believe that the week of Thanksgiving has arrived! Vibrant, candy red leaves that once waved from the high limbs of towering trees have layered the ground in a sea of crumpled and crinkled brown. The sun that once worked overtime until just after 8pm has changed office availability until just before 6pm. The summer warmth has taken a leave of absence and the arrival of winter cold makes the perennial appearance to agitate aching joints and feeble bones. Soup, gumbo and chili have reintroduced themselves to kitchen menus and teams are shaping into midseason football form with playoffs in full view. Thanksgiving is here, but with much of 2016 in the rearview, do we really have much for which to be thankful?
While the shock of the presidential election results has settled, philosophical rejection and righteous indignation have manifested through protesting in the streets and conversations revolving around unprecedented political reform. Social media is infested with accounts of racial tension and hate and thus rudely awakened people of goodwill to the fallacy of a post-racial society. As the new administration continues to be assembled with “alternate right” conservatives, the general sentiment is that hope unborn has died. If Trayvon, Tamir, Sandra, Oscar, Eric, Philandro and so many others senselessly lost their lives during a fair and positive administration, how many more hashtags will be organized with a demagogue leading the free world? With certainty, this is only one cause for alarm. Why should we be thankful?
From another vantage point, 2016 may have been forgettable on a personal level. Perhaps, the business did not develop according to plan. Maybe a friendship or relationship that was cherished has soured. This may have been the year that the dearest of loved ones made that celestial journey. Maybe every goal was accomplished and every dream realized, but there remains an overwhelming weight of unfulfillment. Even though things have gone well, something about life doesn’t seem to be right. What consolation can be found for the varying frustrations that life brings? Why should we be thankful?
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ Much reflection time has been devoted to such an unusual scripture. How could Paul encourage so many believers to give thanks in everything? As someone who endured so much suffering and scorn, how can one’s pain be reconciled with God’s plan? The true insight likes in this fact; God uses everything that happens to us for our good and His glory. Even if it appears that 2016 has not worked in your favor, God, Himself is working in your favor! As you gather around beans, green, potatoes, tomatoes and all other fixings, remember that even if 2016 has not worked out, it is still working together! Rejoice and be thankful!