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Thanksgiving 21 Years Later

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1 Peter 1:3b-6 In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope… In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (NIV)

In hopes of gaining some new insights about grief, I looked at some of the old sermons I wrote after we suffered the loss of a child during delivery. Interestingly, all the sermons I gave after this heartbreak seemed routine. However, the Sunday before we lost the baby I spoke on thanksgiving. How easy it must have been to deliver that sermon! It would have been so different the following week. Gratefulness is easy when your life has been wonderful and your future looks bright. Being thankful after your hopes have been dashed to pieces would have taken a depth of character I doubt I had.

I tracked down a paper copy of the old thanksgiving message. It seemed pretty routine: thank God, take your eyes off yourself, find things to be thankful for, etc. But at the very end was a verse that was scratched out due to editing. And how precious it was! It talked about God’s mercy, an enduring inheritance, and a coming salvation—and all of this in the midst of grief, suffering, and trials. Now that I have complied 21 more years of trials, I understand more about thanksgiving. This life is hard. Really hard. We hurt. We cry out. We weep. But even as all kinds of grief reach into our souls from time to time, a hope rises up. In the midst of the heartache of life, we are loved by a God who gives us a living hope. And for that, we can give thanks.


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