Jerry Springer. The Kardashians. LaVar Ball. Why are train wrecks so intriguing? We want to look the other say, but our eyeballs are drawn to the tragic. I remember sitting in a restaurant during coaching school one year and everything stopped in the restaurant when the news started reporting this white bronco with O.J. Simpson in the back. It was the mess that everyone couldn’t wait to watch. And yes, I will confess, I watched the dramatized re-make of the whole thing.
We are amazed, surprised, unsettled by the amazingly horrible things that happen around us and to us. Our whole news cycle is based on this phenomenon of horrific things that mesmerize humanity. I think the same thing is true in our own life. Let’s be honest-in every life and I mean in every life, there is also something good and something bad happening at the same time. Mom has cancer, but the children are so beautifully innocent. A job lost, but the church takes a love offering. Divorce seems to kill everything, but we find strength we didn’t think we had. There is always good and always bad. The question is where is our focus.
Strangely as I was driving to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving, the kids were watching a movie in the car so I could hear the audio. It was Superman vs. Batman and the villain in the movie said something that stuck in my craw. He said that as a result of the abuse he endured from his father, He reasoned that, “if God was all-powerful, He could not be all-good.” And he continued, “If God is all-good, He could not be all-powerful.” The logic behind this statement is that if God is all-powerful, why does He allow such horrible things to happen. And if God is truly all-good, there is no way He could be all-powerful or He would stop the horrific events in this life. As I heard this play on the movie, I thought to myself, “How many people must feel this way?” We don’t understand the negative things in life. Maybe this is why we are so drawn to meditate on the negative until our soul has been brought low.
Well…preacherman…what’s the answer? I am not reading this for your jokes. Teach me something!
Well, that was not a very nice thing to say about my jokes…but I digress 😊. Simply put. Robots don’t love. Yeah, that’s the answer. Robots don’t love. God is all-powerful, but His power is not His greatest attribute. His greatest attribute is love. He loves us and desires for us to return our love to Him. If God removed every negative thing in this life, we would be like robots. We would simply go through life, but there would be no love. The nature of love requires a choice. Until I am in a situation where I have to choose you over my own agenda, love remains in the womb. It is born when I choose you over me; when I choose to do what is best for you instead of what I want; when I willingly sacrifice for you. Then the water breaks and loves comes forth. God in His all-powerful way has filled our life with love and goodness, beauty and majesty. He has not removed the filth, horror, and pain. We have a choice. This is an ever-present choice. We never know what tragedy will accompany the next moment. Our ability to choose correctly is the difference from a miserable, unhappy, disturbed, lonely existence and one that is filled with unspeakable joy and full of glory. This choice is everything. And that is where thanksgiving comes in.
Thanksgiving is my most potent weapon in this battle. It is a weapon that must not remain on the shelf collecting dust. Thanksgiving moves my mind away from the Kardashian’s and O.J. Simpson’s; away from the sickness, divorce, and bankruptcy; away from the heartache and pain. Thanksgiving has power to break the focused trance on the negative to find beauty of God’s touch on our life. The Enemy of our soul is well aware of the power in this weapon which is why he works overtime to get more tragedy all around hoping to envelope our soul.
I believe the Lord wants me to tell somebody today that the Devil cannot steal your thanksgiving. It is always there. It is always loaded ready to be fired. Take hold of it today. Be thankful for every good and perfect gift God has placed in your life. It does not remove the painful things, but it keeps them from finding their target. Thanksgiving moves the trajectory of the devil’s scheming. His bullets fly, but they miss our soul. They miss our spirit. They miss our eternity. They miss our joy. And don’t you have plenty to be thankful for today!! Carry this weapon with you. Go to the range often-counting your blessings, naming them one by one. Be prepared for the attacks of the enemy and defend your soul. Defend your home. Defend your peace. Be thankful!
2 Chronicles 5:2-14
Then Solomon summoned to Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. And all the Israelites came together to the king at the time of the festival in the seventh month.
When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the Levites took up the ark, and they brought up the ark and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The Levitical priests carried them up; and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.
The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians —Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. (NIV)
Lord, my soul is under attack by negativity. Everywhere I look, the world around me wants me to focus on the bad. But You, Lord, have commanded me to think only on those things that are praiseworthy and excellent in Your eyes. I confess how difficult it is, but let me praise You for the weapon You have put within me. Today, I give You thanks for every tiny little blessing and every huge act of kindness that has fallen from Heaven into my life. May the weapon of the enemy be broken and not prosper in my soul. I lift my weapon of thanksgiving and I will shout, “Thank you Lord! For You are Good and Your Love Endures Forever!!!” Fill my temple, my life, with Your glory as I give thanks to You! -Amen.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—*money cannot buy [*wealth can never buy]
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
*Count your many blessings, see what God has done.