Giving Thanks

I hope you will indulge me for just a few moments, as I share a little of my human naivety and the wonderful lessons that God taught me as a result.

Several weeks ago, the teeth on the bottom, right side of my mouth started to hurt. I could see a gaping hole in one of my teeth, and I hoped it would just go away. Well, it didn’t. Several weeks later, the pain developed on the left side of my mouth. Once again, I prayed that it would just go away, and once again it didn’t. It hurt to chew on both sides of my mouth.

I thought about calling the dentist. I thought about it for a long time. It had been more than ten years since I last visited a dentist. I wondered what he would say and how much pain I would have to endure to fix the problems. I finally mustered up the courage and made the call. The very kind appointment scheduler moved someone else to another practitioner, so that I culd be seen over the lunch hour. Done!

The very friendly and non-shaming hygienist brought out the high-powered plaque-blasting machine to zap the first layer of junk off my teeth. It was amazing to feel my teeth clean again after so long. The dentist greeted me and announced that there would be root canals, crowns and fillings. Some of the work had to be done right away, and some could wait a bit. My new dentist and I are now on a first name basis!

If you have endured this article thus far, you are probably wondering why I am providing extensive details about my dental woes. Well, there is a lesson here that I learned (painfully), about showing gratitude for my physical body by taking care of it.

God tapped me on the shoulder and urged me to make that call I had been dreading and avoiding for too long. God also showed me that I had been ungrateful for what he has given me by not taking care of my teeth. I waited until my mouth really hurt before I acted. (Note: some of us are slower to catch on to God’s prompting than others).

I tend to avoid pain and put off things that I don’t like to do. Sound familiar? As I suffered through a couple of zingers in the dentist’s chair, I reflected on the little amount of pain I endured compared to the pain suffered by others around me each day. I got a wonderful perspective on the pain of my brothers and sisters in Christ by enduring a small amount of pain myself.

It is important to give thanks for what we have. When we give thanks to God for something we have, we realize our utter dependence on God for everything he has given to us. Everything is a gift. God has given all, and we are called to be grateful for everything. It is easy to be grateful for something that is beneficial to us, but what about suffering? Do we have to be grateful for that too?

Job said it best when he proclaimed, “We accept good things from God, should we not accept evil?” It is often the times of suffering that test us and then strengthen us.   We cry out to God to hear our prayers and deliver us from whatever is causing our pain. As I reflect on periods in my life when I went through a trial, I can see that God brought healing through the suffering I endured. Only God can do that.

God brought me to the phone (and later to my knees) and taught me beautiful lessons about gratitude and suffering. It is easy to take the things we have in this life for granted. We become most keenly aware of what we have, when it is suddenly taken away from us. I took my health for granted, and God gave me a little “love tap” through this experience. As a result, I now spend some time in prayer at the end of each day thanking God for the little things, as well as the big things. I also thank God for what he teaches me through the little crosses I carry each day. It is good to give thanks to the Lord! Please join me in taking time out each day to thank God for all that he has given. God loves us so much.

With praise and thanksgiving,

Deacon Tim

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