Alan Kornacki is thankful for his job that stresses him out so much that he eats more than he should until he has reached the point that he looks like a beached whale. He's thankful that his son is autistic. He's thankful for four years outside parish ministry. He's thankful for knees that ache, fingers that don't do what he wants them to do, and a head that needs SPF 60 to get through a summer day. In *everything* give thanks.
This might sound a bit sarcastic. But that's not how it was intended. Each of these things, and hundreds of more that can (and do) often seem like frustrations and messes are things which God uses to demonstrate His goodness in my life.
When I moved with my family to Louisiana four years ago, I had no job and no prospects for a job. This part of Louisiana is mainly oil and gas with some shipbuilding thrown into the mix. The available jobs at the time called mainly for laborers with mechanical skills, and I have none. I applied for every job for which I was remotely qualified . . . and even some for which I wasn't. When the job at the community center opened up a year after I left Ohio, it was a true blessing. Here was a job for which my life experience had made me uniquely qualified. It's not parish ministry, which is where my heart is and where I hope to return sooner rather than later. But it's a good job, a worthwhile job, a stimulating job, and one which I can actually do. I may find it frustrating at times, and I let myself wallow in the frustrations too much at times, but it's a job. I can do it, and by doing it I support my family.
Michael is autistic. Communicating with my son is difficult, but he's a smart and healthy little boy who just has trouble expressing himself in verbal way. I was the same way, and I wasn't autistic. But I have a son, one who I love as much as my other children, one who reminds me daily that it doesn't take a whole mess of words to express love to someone.
You all know that I greatly desire a return to parish ministry. Yet the past four years have been a blessing. I got to spend nearly a year being a full-time father to my newborn twins. I've been able to preach in over a dozen churches in the Southern District. I've been able to grow in areas that will aid me when I do return to the parish. I'll be a very happy man when I return to parish ministry, but until then, I'll continue to learn and grow as a man and as a pastor.
As for my body falling apart . . . It's not easy to look at myself in the mirror and be pleased with what I see. That's my fault. I've been a poor steward of this gift God has given me. Yet I have a body with four limbs that work mostly the way they should, a head that works right most of the time, and enough strength to deal with most of the things that I face in a day. Now that Thanksgiving is over, I'm going to be a better steward of this gift and try to appreciate it a bit more. (Besides, I'd rather be bald than grey.)
It's easy to be thankful for the things we want, for the things that go well. It's not so easy to be thankful when things don't go the way we want them. In the Lord's Prayer we pray, "Thy will be done." Sinner that I am, I'd certainly prefer that my will be done, yet it somehow always works out so much better when I don't try to get in the way of God doing His work in my life. Each of these things allow me to be weak so that I can see the power of God in my life.
I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." God grant us all the ability and will to do so. And God help me to remember this lesson daily, since it's all too easy to forget.
By the way, in addition to everything else, I'm thankful for all the people who take the time to read this blog. A blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you.