So this week, I’m posting guest blogs from some terrific folks that have great things to say. Today’s blog is by my new friend Jeannie Cunnion. I met her through sweet Courtney DeFeo, who has blessed us here at themoatblog before. One super fun thing, Jeannie is actually coming to Dallas this weekend to speak at Irving Bible Church’s Mom’s Night Out. Grab some gals and go hear her share on Saturday night from 6:30 – 8:30.
Thanks for sharing, Jeannie! … and thanks for walking the road with me.
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy crashed into our little town. Thank God we were able to escape with the precious things like photo albums and baby journals, and most importantly, our safety. But much of the rest was swept away as fast as the tide came crashing in and out of our sweet little home.
The state of emergency began the night before Sandy hit. Our family of five bunked up with two other families in a house about thirty minutes inland. I remember curling up with a book that night called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and thinking, “How fitting to be reading a book about thankfulness as I wait for the water to rise and pursue all my earthly treasure.”
I read each page slowly, not yet realizing that the kind of thankfulness Ann writes about was something I was going to need to hold on to in the days ahead.
Fast-forward twenty-four hours, after Sandy made her mark. We returned home to see the devastation. But as I looked around at all that was swept away and the little that remained, I was struck with the words I’d read in Ann’s book just the night before:
“‘On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ (1 Cor. 11:23 – 24) …… Jesus offers thanksgiving for even that which will break him and crush him and wound him and yield a bounty of joy.”
I was reminded that even then, Jesus gave thanks.
As I looked around me, I saw the water line on my mailbox that reminded me how high the water rose. I saw the house torn apart, the sea-kissed furniture, and the walls lined with water stains. But when I looked up, you won’t believe what I saw. A rainbow painted in the sky. A rainbow that reminded me that God is faithful, he is good, and his promises are true. Ah yes, Jeannie, give thanks.
A heart of thanks is what carried us through the many months of tumultuous recovery to the other side of unimaginable joy.
And a verse I’d memorized in my head finally began to make it’s home in my heart:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18
In a world of so much selfishness and entitlement, I want to raise thankful children, ones who recognize that everything they are and everything they have is a gift from God. I want them to live in thankful awareness of the basics we take for granted, like a safe roof over our heads, healthy food to eat, clean clothes to wear, and safe water to drink. I want them to be thankful for all of the wonderful opportunities they are given, the places they get to go, and the experiences they enjoy. This is what I want—children who are thankful for everything God has given them.
But do you know what I want even more than children who are thankful for what they’ve been given? Children who are thankful for everything God has done for them. I want to foster in our children an overwhelming awareness of God’s grace by teaching them what he has done for us by giving us Jesus. I want them to know, more than anything else, that because of God’s great love for us, he sacrificed his one and only Son, for our sin, so that we can be reconciled with Him!
He loves us that much! No strings attached. That’s right, none. Even when we forgot to be thankful, which, trust me, is a skill I’ve mastered, His faithfulness never ceases and His love never wavers.
Unconditional, wholehearted, relentless, radical love is yours and mine, not because of anything we do or don’t do, but because of everything Jesus has already done for us!
While God has given us “stuff” to be thankful for, it pales in comparison with the gift he has given us in Christ.
This kind of thankfulness breeds gratitude, humility, generosity, and joy. And I never understood this more than after Hurricane Sandy rocked our world.
God exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances because he knows – thankfulness changes the trajectory of our hearts.
Thankfulness helps us see the rainbow, even in the ruin.