Posted by: dhkrause | July 28, 2021

Giving Thanks Always

In Ephesians 5:20 Paul enjoins believers to be “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. This admonition may apply more widely than we usually realize.

For example. we would not normally thank God for our afflictions. Yet In Psalm 119, verses 67 and 71 we read, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word. … It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.” The Psalmist is thankful in hindsight for his afflictions because they drove him closer to God.

The emotional pain caused by the betrayal of a loved one is another form of affliction. Bible teacher Eddie Smith (eddieandalice.com/) visiting our church some years ago declared, “Be thankful for those who betrayed you, because they drove you closer to God.” Astounding words! Yet as an example, I will share a testimony of how a parent’s betrayal drove me to know God as the deepest source of love.

To provide a little background, I should note that my father and mother divorced when I was an infant, and my brother two years older and I were raised by our mother. Our father remained part of our lives, however, visiting us on most weekends. Our mom and dad even remarried for a short time when I was about eight years old. They loved their two children equally, and we loved them back, always wanting to make them proud.

Our father had an intermittent alcohol problem that contributed to their two divorces. This problem cropped up again during my senior year in high school when I was seventeen, On a particular Saturday when I accompanied him to a worksite as a helper on a remodeling job he was doing, he was showing signs of having imbibed that morning. Detecting his inebriated condition, the woman owner of the house requested that he take the day off.

Back at his house with the effects of the alcohol increasing, he began to speak out in self pity as we sat at the kitchen table. He was grieving the recent death of his mother and also missing his older son who was then on active duty in the Navy. Tearfully he looked toward me and said, “I wish my real son were here, instead of this secondhand imitation of a son!”

Both my stepmother and I were shocked by his words. I quietly rose from the table, walked out the front door and began the five mile trek home. I had never cried in public since the age of eight, but the tears flowed freely that day as I prayed.

I had recently received Jesus as my Savior and Lord at a Billy Graham Crusade, and the Holy Spirit was with me as I prayed, “Dear Lord, I am grieved that my father doesn’t know how to love me as a son. But I know that You love me. Even if people who should know how to love don’t know how, your love means everything to me. Even if not a single person in this world were to love me or even like me, I know that You like me, and You love me, and that gives me all the strength I need for living.”

In short, I became a stronger person through that event because I learned to find my strength in God, and in His love that never fails. I did reconcile with my dad soon afterward. My stepmother told him when he woke up that he had better call me to apologize. He did so, but he could not remember what he had said. I did not have the heart to tell him. I just gave it all to God, and He has enabled me to completely forgive him.

I eventually came to understand that my dad at that moment was lashing out in self pity at the nearest convenient target, who happened to be his second born son. But none of us is second place in God’s sight. All we who love Him are the apple of His eye.

As a sad epilogue, my father died (of suicide) when I was 24 during a period of deep depression aggravated by alcohol. For a long time after that I had a mix of strong feelings about him. But now I feel only love and compassion toward him, and thankfulness for the many things he did for me growing up, He was a good dad in many ways. He just was not himself on those two very sad occasions.

If I ever see him in eternity, I will hug him with all my heart, and call him Dad. I thank God for his life, as I do for all my loved ones who have died. Let us be thankful for our loved ones who have died, more than we mourn their death.

Out of even the very worst things that happen, God makes something come out of them that is indescribably good. (Ref. Romans 8:28) What the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good, to bring about this you see, the saving of many lives. (Ref. Genesis 50:20)

Can we give thanks even when we are betrayed? Yes. I am praying and believing that there will be healing all around. God is with us through it all, and that makes every day glorious. “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

biblestudytools.com/romans/8-28.html

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