I was prompted at the end of the book I just finished to list the things that I’m thankful for.  It also said that it’s OK to list the things that I’m not grateful for, that it’s OK to grieve over the presence of things in my life that aren’t good so long as I always come back to the list of things that are good and give thanks to God for them. In thinking about all of the things that I’m grateful for in my life it didn’t take long to realize the list has always far outweighed the things that grieve me.  So why did it so often seem to me to be quite the opposite? I should have done this exercise decades ago.

  • I’m thankful that God in his providence didn’t allow my mother and father to conceive a child when they were first trying.  I’m grateful that as Catholics they decided to adopt through Catholic Charities and that at 3 days of age I became their first and only boy. I’m equally grateful that in His divine mercies he then allowed my parents to give birth to 3 beautiful girls.
  • I’m thankful that my parents raised me in a godly house. That for all my life the concept of God has never been a question. I’m thankful that I was raised with Christian morals of right and wrong of truth and of just consequences. I’m also thankful that I had instilled in me at an early age an appropriate fear of God.
  • I’m thankful that even though I shunned higher education I have never lacked gainful employment. And I’m just as thankful in acknowledging that there were many people over the years who have made sure I had the means to make ends meet.
  • I’m thankful for meeting and eventually falling in love with JoAnn Richards. That while I was not yet in a right relationship with Christ he lead me, through her, to a group of young godly people. I can never fully express my humble love for those young men and women who through their loving actions showed me what I, on my own, had searched in vain for for so many years.
  • I’m thankful that JoAnn and I eventually married and even though we’re now divorced that I had 5 wonderful years with her.
  • I’m thankful that out of that marriage God blessed me with two wonderful children.
  • I’m thankful that through the darkness of our separation and eventual divorce God provided a beacon of light that would eventually lead me to a small group of Christians who would become my closest friends for the past 18 years. I’m thankful for God leading me to that small group and for allowing me to find love again.
  • I’m thankful for the incredible godly woman who I’m now married to.  Who despite all my shortcomings has always seen something in me that I often times have not.
    Robin, you have been an anchor in the tumultuous storm of my life. A storm that I often times create on my own and yet you’ve stood beside me all these years. You’ve also been an encouragement (swift kick in the rear) when I’ve needed it most. You’re forever the angel God sent.
  • I’m thankful for Robin’s mom and late father who lovingly excepted me as one of their own.
  • I’m thankful for my church and for the men and women who have been my extended family for almost half of my life.
    You have lead, guided and nourished my spiritual walk to become the man of God that I now am. I can never thank all of you near enough for allowing me to be your son, brother, father or crazy uncle.
  • I’m thankful for Christians who have shared their own spiritual struggles in times of great adversity and loss. And I’m most thankful for the one consistent truth they’ve taught through those trials, that God is still God.

It was in understanding that foundational truth that I found myself able to learn of my cancer and not become a basket case. God is God. He is the same today as He was yesterday as He will be tomorrow. And my trials, what ever they may be, will not in any way change the relationship I have with Him in Christ Jesus.

Should you be making your own list? What are the things that you’re thankful for?

Colossians 2:6-7
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.