The good and the bad, victories and defeats, highs and lows, they come to all of us. Jesus said that it "rains on the just and the unjust," (Matthew 5:45) meaning that good times and bad times comes to those who are faithful to God and those who are not.
I've been sick for the past couple of days. I am not a good sick person. I don't like being sick, not just because I don't feel well, but because I can't keep going, keep working, keep pressing on to do what God has called me to do.
Note: I am feeling much better, and will be "good to go" for my missions trip to Cuba on Friday.
What is our response when "bad times" come?
We are to be thankful.
Not thankful for the "bad" that has come our way, but thankful "in the midst of" the bad things that come our way.
Again - difficult. Hard. Sometimes, almost impossible without God.
Henri Nouwen writes, "To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work.
Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say "thank you" to all that has brought us to the present moment.
As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.
Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God."
Here's my prayer:
"I am trying, Lord, to be thankful as Henri Nouwen has written. Help me Father!"
Here's a story that might encourage all of us:
"German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area. The fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine.
At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return.
Pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals of the other two. As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all.
In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.
Yet living in a world dominated by death, Pastor Rinkart wrote the following prayer for his children to offer to the Lord:
Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms,
Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today."
May that be our prayer today.