1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)- in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I was recently surprised by a card that a dear friend sent me in the mail. It was a simple card- but the message that it carried was profound.
Many years ago, my friend Sonia Marty suffered the loss of her only son- Danny. He was an amazing young man filled with a special zest for life and a particular gift of charisma that proved irresistible to anyone that encountered him.
I have a special respect and appreciation for Sonia.
When Liz and I were going through a season of marital conflict, she was the only one who truly stepped through the criticisms and judgements, in order to rescue my confused, young mind. When I needed a mother most…she was there to gently pull me out of the miry pit through love and gentleness. On the day she visited me, the one message that her love engraved in my heart was that regardless of the circumstances, she loved Liz and I, unconditionally.
Sonia’s inalienable gift has always been to understand the fragility of the human condition and to have and express sincere compassion for everyone. Her meaningful expression of compassion was one of the main factors that contributed to my returning to God and working on my marriage.
I have not always been the most compassionate of persons, but Sonia’s example always sets me back on course.
When I opened Sonia’s card, the message that it conveyed pierced through my heart and spirit. She was thanking me for a book I had given her years ago… An act of kindness that I no longer remember giving.
This is exactly why Sonia is such an inspiring soul. She has suffered in ways that I pray would never happen to me… yet in the midst of her greatest tragedies, Sonia is an example of gratitude to God for the simplest of things- including the sufferings that oftentimes accompany misfortune.
On the night in which Jesus Christ was going to be handed over to his enemies, the Lord took bread and wine, thanked God for them, and then gave them to his disciples.
On that night, simple and humble elements that complimented every Hebrew dinner table became the symbols of his body and blood that he was giving up for the salvation of the whole world. (Luke 22:19-20)
The foundation of thanksgiving is the realization that life, breath, sustenance and associations are not entitlements, but gifts from God’s grace.
Although Lord Jesus naturally feared the transcendental pains and sufferings of his mission, he gave thanks to God for the blissful joy of salvation that others would receive by means of his self-denial. Jesus Christ was thankful to God for the honor of being the agency through which God’s grace would be available to every human being.
Christ’s self-denial of personal grace and the giving up of any sense of entitlements, made possible the existential forgiveness for anyone who sincerely turns to God. (1John 2:2)
While living in this realm of existence, we will never fully comprehend the good ramifications that will come from our sufferings. It is normal to feel as if life’s circumstances have been unfair to us… but to remain focused on a sense of personal injustice and resentment will only create further injustices for others around us.
To focus on misfortunes and pain with disregard for others, can turn us into selfish, self-centered, greedy, narcissistic persons. But when we turn our eyes from ourselves and use our pain as a means for compassion, we become like God.
When we rise to the occasion in thanksgiving to God for our lot- then regardless of the circumstances, He will eventually reveal to us the reason for our tragedies; He will console us with the eternal joy that the end result of our humility has produced. (Isaiah 53:11; Hebrews 12:2)
I am not sure of many things…but I am sure of this:
Sonia will one day see the end result of her humility and thanksgiving in every circumstance. In the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus himself will take Sonia by the hand and bring her to her son Danny.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘ Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.'” –Revelation 21:4-5