Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Are We Really Thankful?" by Chris Klicka

Long-time home school advocate Chris Klicka passed away on October 12, 2009, after a lengthy battle with Multiple Sclerosis. This is a reprint of his column "Are We Really Thankful?" passed along in this week's newsletter from Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV). He reminds us that the trials we face in life are preparing us for the future.

Once again we are enjoying our annual celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. We spend time with family and friends, take time off work, decorate the house, and eat a great feast. As a family we traditionally write notes and slip them in a homemade mailbox and then hand them out to be read out aloud at the Thanksgiving dinner table. It is a beautiful warm time of meditating on God’s bountiful blessings.

But we all need to analyze our hearts that we do not only limit our thanks to the GOOD THINGS or only give thanks at certain times. Instead we need to get in the habit of giving thanks all the time and faithfully thank God for the “NOT SO GOOD THINGS.” God makes it very clear in I Thess. 5:18, “In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you through Christ Jesus.” Does this really mean we should thank God for everything? Even thank God for my gradually deteriorating multiple sclerosis---losing my legs little by little and even my right hand ?

Yes, I must because this is God’s will for me at this time. Although my flesh is hurting so much, I cannot deny how I have seen God work through the MS to change many people’s lives. He has simultaneously been doing a continual and awesome work in my heart to conform me to the image of his Son. Nor has my MS been in vain for my children, as they learn that the Christian life isn’t always a smooth road but Jesus will still sustain them--and they are learning to be true servants in the process. God is blessing me with “power" that "is perfected in weakness.” II Cor. 12:9. In fact, Paul says that he would rather “boast about his weakness that Christ may be seen in him.” II Cor. 12:10. I have seen God's promises come true in my life as I daily find that “His grace is sufficient for me.” He is and will enable me to fulfill His calling to me (to be a father to my 7 children, husband, homeschool lawyer author and speaker) through His Holy Spirit's power.

I am thankful for MS!

Remember when the disciples joyfully celebrated being persecuted like their Master Jesus had been persecuted? They were thankful to be counted worthy?

Yes, we are to give thanks for everything, even the “not so good things.”

I heard Pastor Tony Evans on the radio one day, and he explained that there are three types of thanksgiving and praise; the "cum laude" praise, the "magna cum laude," and the "summa cum laude." He said the "cum laude" praise and thanksgiving is when we thank God for our clothes, our marriage, our children, our job------- for the good things in life. Certainly it is important that we live thankful lives. I know that if we have a thankful heart every day we’re going to have a better attitude no matter the circumstances and be an overcomer of obstacles in our way. Jesus will shine brighter through us too.

Then Tony Evans said the "magna cum laude" thanksgiving and praise is when we’re delivered from some bad situation, much like when the ten lepers were healed by Jesus. The one leper came back and was blessed because he thanked God for delivering him from leprosy. How often do we expect the healing when we take the medicine or expect our next paycheck to take care of the problem and don’t lean on Jesus and thank Him for his deliverance?

Finally, Tony Evans said there is the "summa cum laude" praise and thanksgiving. He believes that type of thanksgiving and praise is the most blest of all. God loves to hear us give Him praise and thanksgiving even in the midst of the suffering. When Paul and Silas were in prison, chained up, tortured and beaten, and facing a death sentence, the Bible says that they gave praises to God in the "midnight hour". It must have been some testimony to the other prisoners and the guards in the prison, to hear them praising and thanking God. Did they feel like doing it? Not on your life. Yet they did it, because God deserved the thanks and praise.

The Bible says that we are to glory in our tribulation and count it all joy when we experience diverse suffering.Rom. 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4. Are we being thankful in our "midnight hour?"

This Thanksgiving, let us be truly and wholly thankful, because we are saved by the blood of Jesus, the Son, and are going to heaven, and nothing can change that. Scripture says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Rom. 8:38-39. Let us be thankful this holiday season because “all things work together for good to those that love god and Are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. A polio victim who crawled around on her hands in Ghana always had a smile on her face. When Joni Erickson asked her how she could be so happy when she had nothing, and her health was so bad and she didn’t even have a wheelchair. The lady who had a close relationship with her Father God had a puzzled look on her face why Joni would ask her such a question . Then she responded, “Well* I have Jesus!”

I do not have the faith yet of that poor girl in Ghana------but God will complete His good work He has begun in me!

If homeschooling is rough this year, the finances are tight, your health is shaky, or your friends are forsaking you, we still need to be thankful. God is using each and every circumstance to bring us closer to Him, and make us more like Jesus. That is what we want and we have much to be thankful for. Most of all we can be thankful that we have a God who gives Himself to us--His comfort, never-ending love, sustaining strength, wisdom, guidance, and overcoming power! He is there with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

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