A Reminder to be Thankful

I fell recently. Planted my face in the asphalt and knocked myself out. Broke my nose. My face was covered with scrapes and bruises. It looked like I had been hammered with an ugly stick. Pickleball is not for the faint of heart!

Thankfully, the CT scan in the ER showed no brain trauma. I do mean thankfully. I am thankful that the injuries were relatively minor and of short duration. The outcome could have been much worse.

This has reminded me of how thankful we should be for daily blessings from above. I am afraid that for too long I have taken for granted the gift of good health. The Parkinson’s diagnosis has reminded me how fragile and tentative life can be and how grateful I should be that God is holding me in the hollow of his hand.

Not long ago I was reading about how Nehemiah led the Jewish people in a celebratory ritual of thanksgiving. As a leader he wanted to impress upon the people the importance of taking time away from the routine of life to think about God’s blessings and to thank him.

God had brought them back home from a long captivity in Babylon and Persia. They had successfully rebuilt the city walls of Jerusalem. God had protected them from enemies. They had formally renewed their covenant relationship with God.

Now it was time to give thanks. Priests and Levites led liturgical prayers of thanks and praise. One of them was “Mattaniah . . . the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer” (Nehemiah 11:17). Some of them were musicians who “were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving” (Nehemiah 12:27).

Nehemiah and Ezra then assembled the leaders of Judah to ascend to the top of the wall of the city. They were led in a procession by two large choirs and instrumentalists. They marched around the city of Jerusalem on top of the wall in a boisterous celebration of thanks and praise to God. One group went in one direction led by Ezra. The other group, with Nehemiah following, went in the other direction.

The groups met at the temple area to publicly thank the Lord for all he had done to help and provide for them. Men, women and children “were rejoicing because God had given them great joy” (Nehemiah 12:43).

We are reminded every day of reasons to be unhappy. News of wars, dangerous weather, political scandals, social problems, moral decay, random and meaningless violence, for example, fuel our feelings of anxiety. We know that if our attention stays too long on these the mental and emotional cost will be high.

Nehemiah 12 helps us to look at the dangers of life through God’s perspective. Difficulties are not going to go away. They will always be there. But our faithful father in heaven in not going away either. He has promised he will be with us through whatever hardships we may face. He will be present to help us and sustain us.

We may fall, but he will be there to lift us and hold us. So let’s not forget to keep our eyes on him and give thanks.

Pastor Randy Faulkner