This has easily been the toughest year of my life. A couple of falls on the ice last winter left me with severe back pain. During that time, my Mother died. I spent eight days in the hospital with sepsis. Although I got better, we knew that I also had a heart infection. This eventually led to open heart surgery where my aortic valve was replaced, my mitral valve repaired, and my pacemaker and wiring removed. And of course, what lay behind my infections was my low immune system due to multiple myeloma, so I’m also under treatment for cancer.
I’m glad that we face life one day at a time, one moment at time. Otherwise, this past year would have been overwhelming. Somehow, I’ve managed my way through it. I suspect that I should replace “somehow” in the previous sentence to “with lots of prayer.” I’ve recounted this past year to say that in the midst of all of this, I always found reasons to be thankful.
It is a wonderful discovery. We don’t have to have everything going right to be thankful. Maybe our thanksgiving in troubled times is just a bit sweeter because of the contrast. It may be that times of trouble also bring clarity about what is most important. I am thankful for waking up each day and having a new day to work, love, and serve.
I am thankful for my family. I had visits. Things I needed were brought to me. We had some wonderful shared meals especially meals where the food came from outside the hospital. My wife Kathy bore the burden of visits. It is exhausting having someone in the hospital. My family was there for me.
I am thankful for my church family. Again, there were many encouraging visits. I received a ton of get well cards. I had people praying for me in many different places.
I am thankful for simple things. I would be awakened early in the morning for vitals, and when I was well enough, I would just get up. I would enjoy a cup of coffee, read my Bible, and watch the encroaching rays of the rising sun on the buildings outside my window. It was peaceful and satisfying.
I am thankful for my spiritual blessings. As the hymn says, “Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling…” God has saved through the atoning death of Jesus Christ. I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy. And I have experienced God’s blessings, his providential care.
Thanksgiving is important. Thanksgiving can occur even in troubled times. I appreciate this saying: “It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 ESV)
— Russ Holden