I thank him for the mountains
And I thank him for the valleys
And I thank him for the storms he's brought me through
For if I'd never had a problem
I'd never know that he could solve them
I'd never know what faith in God can do
Those are the words of the second verse of a classic song by one of my heroes, Andrae Crouch. The song is called Through It All. Andrae died this year of a heart attack at age 72. He was truly a great man. Through It All was one of his earliest hits, one of the songs that, along with I've Got Confidence, which was recorded by Elvis Presley, launched his career in the early 1970's. Andrae had faced some health problems in his life, and Through It All was about how God had helped him through those times. But that second verse is a problem for a lot of people, including me.
I've always understood and believed in the concept of being thankful, even during bad times. Thankful for the good things in your life. Thankful for family and friends, good health, etc, even if other things in your life are going wrong. It's a great attitude to have, and one that we should all try to have. Focus on the positive. But that isn't what Andrae is talking about here. He says he thanks God for the valleys and the storms! Really? I've always struggled with that notion. For one thing, God doesn't always solve our problems. Sometimes when we pray, the answer is no. So if my faith is bound up in whether or not God gets me out of some jam, I'm not learning how to be thankful no matter what.
You wanna hear something funny, and ironic? Last year, when we spent Thanksgiving with, for the most part, the same group of friends that we'll spend it with this year, we did the traditional thing where everyone at the table told something they were thankful for. Guess what mine was? Good health. I guess my health wasn't as good as I thought it was. But I'm still so blessed. More blessed than I can possibly say. Not in spite of the cancer, but because of it. That's what this post is about. Being thankful not just in the bad times, but for them. I've never understood that concept before, but I do now.
Are we really supposed to be thankful for the bad times? I honestly don't know if it says that in the Bible anywhere, but as I stand here at my desk on the day before Thanksgiving, I find that I actually am thankful for the cancer. Here's why.
If it wasn't for the cancer, I wouldn't know how loved I am. If it wasn't for the cancer, I would be alarmed at the state of my career. 60 years old with no church that wants to hire me. If it wasn't for the cancer, this holiday season would not have nearly as much meaning. Life would not taste as sweet. If it wasn't for the cancer, I wouldn't have discovered the joys of writing this blog. If it wasn't for the cancer, I wouldn't be counting my blessings the way I am. If it wasn't for the cancer, Sharon and I would be discouraged, worried, and broke. Because of the cancer, we're blessed, know how loved we are, and our needs are met. What's not to be thankful for?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am very thankful that all of you are here!
P.S. While we're talking about what we're thankful for tomorrow, let's not forget who we're thankful to. #waroncancer