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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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November 26, 2008

In all things, give thanks

These are difficult days. The news from Wall Street just seems to worsen by the day. More financial companies and industries failing and coming to the government with their hands out, begging for money. More stores and businesses closing—and laying off workers. Where are all these unemployed folks supposed to find jobs? How shall they support families? Pay medical bills with no insurance? The list goes on and on.

Then we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 : "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." And we wonder how we can give thanks in the midst of all our fears and the reality of our lives. Perhaps that is just when we need to focus on gratitude, however: We can give thanks because ours is a God who is there with us in the midst of all life's situations, good and bad.  God is there loving us, caring for us and crying with and for us. For this we give thanks.

I need reminders like this verse to focus on what I do have and not just on what I don't—to focus on gratitude rather than on my fear.

However, having said that, I cannot speak for all those whose lives really are in desperate straits these days—who are truly living on the edge. For the truly poor and the hungry, those on the fringes of our society and our globe, this current situation puts them in an even more fragile position. I cannot speak for them. I cannot tell them they should be thankful. I do not walk in their shoes. But I can be part of helping them—through all the relief and development work done by the ELCA in its Hunger Appeal and through Lutheran World Relief , just for two examples. 

I am grateful for a church that takes seriously its call to  minister even to the least of these. Thank you, God, that you give us opportunities to love and to serve in your name.

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