Originally written in 2008
“2008 REASONS TO BE THANKFUL IN 2008”
One of the most popular songs we sing at our fellowship and church gatherings has always given me a certain level of discomfort. It goes something like this:
I have a reason to praise the Lord
I have a reason to praise the Lord, in my life
I have a reason to praise the Lord, in my life
I have a reason to praise the Lord.
A beautiful praise song no doubt, so why did I, at times, find it difficult to mouth those words? I felt the answer to that question lay hidden in the phrase, “a reason.” How could I sing of a reason to praise and thank Him when I could easily come up with a thousand reasons? That was my dilemma.
I won’t go any further without acknowledging, for the fear of verbal plagiarism, part of the title of this reflection. As I gushed on about how wonderful God had been to me during a major health crisis, one of the pastors who had come to see me interjected, “2008 Reasons!” Prior to my disconnecting an answering service on our home phone, the message a caller would hear was, “In all things, give thanks to God!” Therefore, giving thanks to God wasn’t a new thing to me. But as our Father in heaven is dynamic, it’s a message that has continued to take on deeper and deeper levels of meaning for me.
Could I really come up with 2008 reasons for being thankful to Father God?
I probably could, but I’m certain the editor of this newsletter would most certainly reject it! I could group all those obvious, but sometimes taken-for granted reasons: being alive, waking up each morning, good health, roof over our heads, and on and on – those blessings, gifts, and presents from God, our Father. By now, I’ve counted about 500 reasons for each day, each gift, each blessing. . . .
Then again, when we go through storms and trials, we get to another level of thankfulness. I went through a major surgery in November 2007 and came out of it, thanks be to God, doubly renewed and restored! The scar that was supposedly removed was thankfully no worse than the surgeons had expected. To go through any surgical procedure is trying enough. The anxieties were many – from possible swelling, physiological and psychological changes to questionable or normal recovery . . . . So many reasons to be thankful! I’m past a thousand reasons by now.
However, this Easter season has really brought it home to me as no other thing has. It was just after the commemoration of Palm Sunday when I first wrote this reflection. It was the memorial of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem –triumphant, yet humble, on the back of a donkey. By the Good Friday, the conspiracy (from all of us) to kill the King of Kings had been executed and the Son of God went to the cross to purchase our redemption. When the soldiers spat on Jesus, crowned Him with thorns, jeered at Him, flogged Him, and finally nailed Him to the cross, they were literally doing so at our bidding. We were the ones, then and now, crucifying Him. I couldn’t be any gorier than Mel Gibson’s “Passion of Christ” nor could I be gorier than the reality (not the film) of the actual death of Jesus. For every drop of blood and water that gushed out of His torn and broken body, I am thankful. I’m way past 2008 reasons by now.
Therefore, the message and meaning of the Cross is one of “2008 reasons and counting” to be thankful. The statement, “In all situations, give thanks to God . . .” couldn’t be truer because if Jesus had chosen to really let that cup pass, there wouldn’t have been a resurrection nor the victory over sin for you and me. If He hadn’t allowed Himself to shed every drop of the 2008 drops of blood that day on Calvary, I wouldn’t have received my healing. With His shed blood at Gethsemane, my sins have been forgiven and my salvation has been purchased. Obviously, I can’t keep up with this counting thing; I’m just overwhelmingly so thankful for God’s love for us – for you and for me. Here’s another song that captures that singular truth:
“O How I love Jesus, O How I love Jesus, O How I love Jesus
Because He first loved me.”
I do have a reason to praise and thank the Lord. Thank you, Father! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Holy Spirit!
Adding one to 2008 might suffice to keep up with the numerical exercise of counting our blessings, but it surely does not reflect the exponential gratitude with which I respond to the Cross. A week ago, I participated in a Palm Sunday mass, where the rendering of the passion story reflected both the collective responsibility for and the individual experience of the suffering and love of Christ. The same message was beautifully brought to life in the Communion service led by Benny Hinn in Cleveland, Ohio yesterday. Beyond the apologetics of when and for how many days Christ’s death and resurrection occurred, beyond the egg hunts, Easter is real and palpable . . . .so much so that its reality is daily lived out in our lives, no matter the calendar year and for eternity.