The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Give thanks

... in all things

Images in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are forever imprinted on our minds. How can we forget people on rooftops desperately waiting for help, nursing home residents wheeled through water, children separated from parents, or dead bodies ignored so the living could be helped?

We have a catalog of images from other events: Sept. 11. Darfur. Niger. Hurricanes Rita and Charley. Iraq. Columbine. How does that square with 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”? Does that really mean all circumstances? Isn’t it asking a lot that we be thankful in such tragedies?

Perhaps that’s asking the wrong question. A better one might be: What is our proper response to the God who stands with us in all tragedies and challenges?

After the Columbine shootings, I remember ELCA pastor Mark Moller-Gunderson answering the question “Where was God in all this?” by saying: “God was on the cold floor of the library, bleeding and crying out. The kids were not alone.”

God is in the midst of our disasters, our pain, our dyings. God is always there, loving us, caring for us, crying with and for us. For this we give thanks.

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