“Receive each day as a gift from God, with gratitude in your heart for the opportunity to live another day.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 28, 2023
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV
Earlier this week, I had the incredible privilege of giving the homily at my grandmother’s funeral. As is always the case, it is impossible to sum up an entire life in just a few minutes’ time, especially a life lived as beautifully and sacrificially as hers. That said, as I reflected upon her life, Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5 quickly came to mind, and seemed to beautifully capture the spirit of the woman that I knew and loved deeply.
Rejoice always. My grandmother, who we affectionally called “Nana,” was without a doubt one of the most joyful women I’ve ever known. She was quick to laugh, sing, and dance her way across a room. I even remember that in her final years, I would bring my children to visit her in her assisted living home, and within minutes she would be on the ground rolling around with them as though she was a child herself.
Pray continually. As much as she loved to laugh and find joy in every moment, she was a woman of serious conviction and unwavering faith. As noted above, her love of singing was combined with her devotion to Christ, spending decades of her life singing in the local church choir. She was also a model of what Eugene Peterson called “a long obedience in the same direction,” living out her faith in the context of the same local church community for over fifty years. It was in that place that she learned to give and receive forgiveness, and to bear witness to the goodness of God in her life.
Give thanks in all circumstances. It is a mystery to me why our Lord allows some people to suffer more than others, yet as I look at my Nana’s life, it is clear that she had to navigate significant challenges in her life. From spending over 20 years caring for her husband as his health slowly deteriorated from the effects of muscular dystrophy, to her own 10+ year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, Nana had plenty for which she could have grown bitter or resentful, shaking a fist in the air at God. Yet even in the face of these great trials, she received each day as a gift from God, with gratitude in her heart simply for the opportunity to live another day.
Hers was a beautiful story that embodied Paul’s vision in 1 Thessalonians 5, and I pray and hope that by sharing it, in some small way, it reminds you of someone in your own life who embodied similar virtues. May we today give thanks to the Lord for them, and aspire to live lives in which someone might say similar things of us when our race is run.
Father, thank you for the example of faithful men and women, such as my grandmother, who loved you and faithfully followed you to the end, no matter the circumstances, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Who can you honor today for a life well lived?
Bethel Music & Jenn Johnson: Goodness of God
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