by Bob Gaudi
“Be joyful always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –1 Thess. 5:16-18
Recently I had the misfortune to have an accident while doing one of my favorite things, riding my bicycle. I hit a bad spot in the road, went down hard, and slid into my friend who went down harder than me. We both ended up in the ER and my friend spent two nights in the hospital due to 8 broken ribs, a broken sternum, and a punctured lung. I was more fortunate in that all I suffered was a separated shoulder, a lot of road rash trauma, and exacerbation of a pre-existing back injury. All things considered, we were very fortunate in that we were not more seriously injured.
We were only a mile from home and the adrenaline rush in our bodies allowed us to walk back and take stock of our injuries. However, the adrenaline soon wore off and we both headed to different hospitals for evaluation and treatment. After x-rays, a CT scan, and a couple of blood draws, I was told by the attending physician that nothing was broken and I could go home and recuperate. He suggested that I see my primary care physician for follow-up care.
Things soon got a lot harder. I could not walk out of the ER and literally had to be transported to our car by a wheelchair. Upon arrival at home, my wife Karen had to get the neighbors to help me walk into our house as I could not do it on my own. I was not in a good place and could not conceive of what I was going to do. How could I climb the stairs to our bedroom? How could I get to the bathroom? What could I do? I was an older but very active man who had his normal routine and capabilities completely upended. I hurt all over…I could not ride my bike…I could not exercise…I had a difficult time dressing myself…and I could hardly move. I literally was incapable of carrying out routine tasks that were an integral part of my life. I was in a bad place.
I prayed about this and what God had intended for me as a result of this accident. What could I learn from it? What was God saying to me? Rather than why me, Lord? I tried to discern what I needed to know. After a few days of working through this, I finally began to understand what was going on. My takeaway? I needed to be aware of and more thankful for the things in life that I normally took for granted. It was an awakening of a more complete understanding of thankfulness. I hurt and I could not do a lot of stuff I was accustomed to doing, so I had to slow down and appreciate the ordinary.
This was my revelation: reviewing 1 Thess. 5:16-18, the key for me was being able to give thanks in all circumstances. God was helping me to remember that it is right to be thankful for the good things. More importantly, He was telling me that I needed to be thankful for the not-so-good things as well. For it is in the not-so-good things that we come to realize how good the good things really are, and thus how good our Father is. Experiencing pain, discomfort, and sorrow helps us to remember how blessed we really are with the things that are good and to give thanks accordingly. It also helps us to understand that we are being blessed on a continual basis by a God who loves us and wants the very best for us. Sometimes we need to be reminded of this.
The joy of knowing and accepting our God and Savior, of our families and friends, of service to God and others and all the other good things in this life are of His making. The bad things He allows to happen and uses them to remind us Who is in charge, helping us to better appreciate all the good. As Solomon so aptly puts it in Ecclesiastes 7:14, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”
Let’s pray: Thank You, Heavenly Father for being in my life and reminding me how good You really are. Thank You for how much You love me and all that You do for me every single minute of my life. Please help me to remember Who You are and to honor and glorify You in all that I do. Amen.