WHAT’S IT TO YOU? Andy Hollifield 11-23-17
Psalms 79:13 So we the people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
Psalms 106:1 Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
The word “thanks” is used 73 times in 71 verses in the bible. In every last one of them it is referring to giving thanks to God. Every time it is used, except five if I counted right, it is always preceded by give, gave, giving, gavest, given, and givest. There are a couple of verses where those words follow in the scripture rather than preceding the word “thanks.” There are a few other words I want to mention also. These words are thankful (3), thankfulness (1), thanksgiving (28), thankworthy (1), thank (27) with all but four referring to giving God thanks, and thanking is used one time.
Some word having to do with “thanks” appears 134 times in scripture. Some synonyms of the word “thank” are: acknowledge, praise, bless, show gratitude, show appreciation, or courtesy. There is probably not a lot that can be said about Thanksgiving that hasn’t already been said. I guess really no one can say exactly what it means because it means so many things to different people. I view it as a day to look back at where you used to be and what you used to have and see how much God has blessed both materially and spiritually in our lives. Most of all, it is a day set aside to give God thanks for all his blessings.
A friend of mine in church on Wednesday night made this statement while talking the struggles that he and his family have been through in recent years. He said “We have been through a lot but we have been brought through a lot.” I personally know some of the trials this family has faced and are facing and for him to make that statement shows the character and thankful heart that this man truly has. That got me to doing what I just mentioned; looking back at my life. Probably the darkest times in my life both occur around Thanksgiving. The first was in 1995 when just before Thanksgiving we found out that we were expecting our first child. Mid July got a lot harder after that year because that is when our first child was due. We had lost it due to a miscarriage and you talk about a heart-wrenching time, that was one. I knew all the right scriptures and my dad came out and we sat in his van and I listened as he quoted them to me. That day they were all ringing kind of hollow because of the hurt I was going through. You don’t really get over that but you just learn how to live with it. That is one of many times in my life that I had not just “been through” but most importantly was “brought through.”
Another time was more recent in October of 2007. On Tuesday the ninth, my dad passed from this life to the next. For years, he had been my hunting and fishing buddy, my missions partner, as well as my dad. Three areas of my life had in an instant changed forever that morning. Not only was he all of those things but he was also a spiritual rock that you could count on for good advice and counsel. Now, that too was gone forever. Then came 2012 and little did I know how that I would be tested. I had just had a hip replacement in June 2011 that went bad due to infection in the incision. Now, as I neared the end of the year, my surgeon drug me out past the end of 2011 when I had made the mistake of telling him I was scheduled to lose my insurance. Roll forward to the late fall of 2012. As December approached, I couldn’t return to work and I couldn’t have the revision surgery because I had no insurance. I had no choice but to sit and wait and watch as the year ended. I thought “What am I going to do?” Yes both of those were dark times. I did wind up losing my job at the end of the year. Also, my long-term disability insurance CIGNA cut out my check and I was left in a fix. In April of 2012 I probably hit one of the two lowest points of my life. With no idea what the future was going to look like for my family and I, I just finally hit bottom and at 46 years old I was going to have to survive and start over from scratch. In April, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I was going to lose everything I had always worked for.
Now in 2017 things are a lot different. I didn’t tell those stories to bring anyone down but it was a little after that when I began to see God’s hand at work. Today, I sit here still in the same house, and on the same porch, looking at the same piece of ground that the Lord had blessed me with in 2003. My point is, that in all those hard times that I went through, God’s grace was still sufficient! As I look back and remember all of that, I realize that I had been led through that pathway in my life. God hadn’t left me out there to make it the best way I could. No, as Jesus said in 14:6 “…I am the way….” I can testify today that he definitely is the way. There was no other way in my cases except through him and although I was in a place of helplessness, Christ wasn’t. By the way, just to finish up a few details. First, when we had lost that baby, we found out on the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s day. I was scheduled to preach that Sunday morning so I went on not even knowing if I could. That morning, as I stepped up on the stage area, I was enveloped by the sweet Holy Ghost even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Oh yeah, the real kicker is that God had me to preach about “God’s grace.” Not only did I preach about it, but I lived it that morning. I still miss my little boy or girl whichever it was, but God led us through it and gave us Tyler to be the light of our life. As far as my dad’s passing; God let me be there when he left out and also let me read a letter about him at his funeral. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I wouldn’t take anything for it.
Well, that about does it for me, but I want to leave you with a question to ask yourself: “What’s it to you.” What is Thanksgiving to you? I love food and family and football but it is so much more than that. It’s a day that I look back at the darkest times in my life and the one constant that I find is God’s grace. That’s what it is to me. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!