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Pastor’s Viewpoint: Giving thanks in the hard times as well as the good

I remember singing it in Bible school while I was growing up; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” In fact, my life is filled with bits and pieces I picked up along the way; many of them came from the Bible, many of them came from my dad, and others came from here and there. They come back to me when I need them… little things picked up day-by-day.
So Paul writes to the Roman Christians, “But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing!” (Romans 13:11-14, MSG)
Years ago, the verse from Psalm 119:105 about lamps and lights came back to me and got me through some hard times. Mary Ella went to the Women’s Health Center for her annual mammogram and they called her back for a biopsy. There were some calcium deposits and they wanted to be careful. If they were big, there was nothing to worry about; they were small. If they were scattered out, there was nothing to worry about; they were clustered. So we went for the biopsy on Thursday and waited… it was benign!
God tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Would you have praised me if it was malignant?” I told my congregation last Sunday, “Sometimes it’s easier to give thanks for a crust of bread when you’re hungry than to give thanks for a feast when you’re not!”
Several years ago, we went through something similar; I sat in the urologist’s office in Savannah a week after a biopsy on my prostate and heard him say, “It’s cancer! For a week, we’d been re-living that time between, “Let’s be careful” and “It’s cancer.” This time, it was cancer, but after three years of “wait and watch” and forty radiation treatments, I’m doing great.
It’s as hard to give thanks in the hard times as it is easy to give thanks in the good times. Politically, we are living through hard times, but there is still the opportunity to “count your many blessings” and be thankful!

-Pastor’s Viewpoint is written by Pastor Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland & Bold Springs UMC and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.