By NANCY GIBBS
Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate God’s blessings. I remember as a child gathering up a dozen or so cans of vegetables and potted meats to take to school for distribution to those with needs. I loved the idea then of helping those less fortunate than me. I still do today.
There are so many ways we can minister to other people. We minister by filling the stomachs of those who are hungry but we can also minister to those who are spiritually starving. Because I have a willing heart God gives me many opportunities to minister to people around me.
Every Thanksgiving, from my childhood until now, I have reached out to people around me. This year, the tables have been turned. I came to a point in my life that I needed God more than ever before and I needed you and your prayers. And I thank you greatly for every prayer lifted up to God.
For about 18 months I have been dealing with severe back and neck pain. I’ve tried to keep moving and tried to continue to do all those things I did a couple decades ago. When will we ever learn that as we age we can’t do everything we used to do? I suppose we learn when we spend days and nights flat on our backs because we overdid it. I’ve certainly learned that lesson the hard way. Pain has become my constant companion. Many of you have prayed for my healing and I appreciate it very much.
Two weeks ago, matters only got worse when my 5-year-old grandson Brody was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. His blood sugar was sky high and he was admitted into the children’s hospital in Atlanta. We went to the hospital and for two days we attended classes so that we could understand how to take care of him. This sweet little boy has many adjustments to make in life. But he is facing them with a smile!
The next day, Roy and I went to his cardiologist office for him to have a stress test. I saw the expression on the doctor’s face when he looked at the results. “I can’t look you in the face and tell you that everything is all right,” he confessed. My heart sank. He set up a heart cath for the next week.
The next day our granddaughter Claire was taken to the emergency room with a possible blockage. By this point I was ready to throw up my hands and wave a white flag. I wanted to proclaim, “I give up!”
But God gave me the confidence that we could go on regardless of the struggles we were facing. That confidence came because I knew you all were praying for us. If you are on Facebook you might have read my post. “Please pray for our family. When it rains, it pours. But fortunately, God has a big umbrella.” Your prayers and God’s umbrella of protection saw us through these difficult days.
Now looking back, even though my neck and back are still causing a great deal of pain, I have faith that God is going to see me through.
Brody stayed in the hospital for 3 days and the following Saturday night he ran in a 5K, averaging a little over 10 minute miles. He is amazing and certainly a little hero in my eyes. He refuses to let a diagnosis get him down. Claire was treated and released later that night feeling much better.
Last week Roy had his cath and received a great report. His heart is strong. There are no blockages and his valves are working perfectly. He is greatly anticipating what else God has in store for him.
All of these difficulties followed us to Thanksgiving week. And even though the days were long and hard, we are surviving. Many people might ask why God allowed all the troubles at the same time. I know He had a reason. I don’t always know “why” but I do know He is in control of all things. And that’s what matters the most.
This Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for many things. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful that we all love each other. I am thankful that we are on this side of many of the troubles and I’m thankful for the lessons I learned.
Brody taught me that even though troubles come our way we can run whatever race God places before us. And Claire has taught me for almost 5 years now that even though life can sometimes be hard, God is always good. This event with Roy’s stress test and cath has shown me that God hears every prayer and that He is faithful to heal when we place our needs and requests in His mighty hand.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving Day? Could it be the food you have to eat or the people sitting around your table? Could it be for friends who pray for you or compassionate doctors who care? Are you thankful for life itself, with all of its ups and downs?
Will you stop long enough today and count your many blessings? And will you pray for someone who has a specific need? When that need is met you can know for sure that if you prayed you had a part in helping meet that need. And when you ask for God’s protection, you can know that He has a big umbrella with your name on it too.
May God bless you today and always! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.