Made Over, Not Just Made Up – When Trust Is the Issue & Thanks, the Challenge

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.   Prov. 3: 5-6

Thanksgiving Sunday! Gratitude and grace. Is there a soul in the room who’s managed to trust in the Lord with a complete heart? Or honor God with every one of his or her ways? If so, I can say. YOU MUST BE THE VERY MOST THANKFUL PERSON ALIVE! No, on Thanksgiving Sunday, most of us would have to admit it. We are much more like the devoted dad to that tormented teen. ‘The one who confessed to Jesus, at the risk of his own sweet child, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.” Truth will out. In this week thanks are on our lips. But our hearts unbelieve…alot. Doubt is a daily torment. Trust is a constant issue. And reservation is a spiritual reality. I can be all about thanks: ‘til I lose my job. Thanks: ‘til I lose my health. Thanks: ‘til someone or some trusted thing betrays me. Thanks: ‘til the world rushes in and my desire to belong to God rushes out like an Ocean City tide. O, I know you know what I mean. So: what to do, how to feel, what to know, when trust is the issue and thanks the challenge of the day?

Start here. ‘Solomon passing out proverbs, dads with demon- dogged children. ‘Then to now; them to us. God is Trustworthy. Are we trust-ready? That’s the thing. It’s not about God, our disillusion, disappointment, hurt or pain. It’s about us. Make no mistake. There’s little thanks where there’s little trust. And little trust where there’s little thanks. Many the times I’ve been asked. “How do we trust (God) again, since this thing has happened?” O, how I wish I had an easy answer. I do not. All I can say is: you simply have to decide to trust. It is not, not ever what someone else has earned. Not even God. (I know this counters much you’ve heard, taught, felt. And I am sorry for that. But it is so.) Like love itself, trust is a gift. Give, or don’t. Your choice. But mistrust or no trust crushes life. Trust saves it. Consider. I spent time this week with parents of a 20ish son, struck on his scooter by a car. No helmet. Facial fractures. Shattered leg. 2 surgeries down. 6 to go. Touch and go. Mom’s words hit me hardest. “He’s here. Still here. I want the leg for him. But he’s here. I want him well and home; but he’s here. Thank God for watching over him. [‘Excuse me? He got plastered to the street!’ 6 ops. to go! She continued] I think of all he/we’ve been spared. I told my 7 brothers and sisters to go to church Thanksgiving and pray thanks. No excuses!” She chooses trust, knowing God will do as God will do. ‘Believing, with Scripture, “God’s will is ever directed to his children’s good,” through it all. The hymn’s right. Paul, too. “The God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels. [That’s why it’s hard to hang on, believe forward, do right] [All] to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. [SO] We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” II Cor. 4: 6-10

Come Thursday, thank God for 100, 100 things in Jesus Christ Above all, of course, for the cross-overcome. ‘For victory over sin and death. ‘For a Savior born to live with us as well as to die for us. Thank God for giving us the choice and the chance to trust, for the sake of all the comfort and relief it brings. But know this. Just as trust creates thanks, practicing thanks in good times makes trust possible in bad. Gratitude is push-ups for attitude. It’s exercise for exorcising demons. (Ask that bereft father with Jesus.) Are you up? Say thank you. Down? Say thank you even more. Thanks is like glasses for the soul. Say thank you and you see yourself more clearly. Smaller, not puffed up. Thank you. It makes things distant (even eternal) appear bigger, closer, sharper than before. Thank you. It clarifies the blurred vision of all who see double in trouble. (We all know/are folks who can find the gray lining even on the silver cloud.) Thank you. It’s the promise to trust in the grimace of loss.

Not even God expects us just to give in to life. God expects us to wrestle with life, and with him. Abraham and Sarah laugh. Jacob Kung Fus angels. Moses negotiates. Job sues God in court. Jesus contests and concurs with God in Gethsemane. [Whereas Islam means surrender] Israel means to wrestle/contest with God. It turns out, GOD KNOWS thanks is not always easy. But it heals, renews, restores. It chooses trust. And trust, well, trust gives thanks. Gives hope. Gives LIFE. So. This week. This week GIVE THANKS. Practice trust. Choose life in Jesus Christ.

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