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November 17, 2012

Remaining thankful in bleak times

Thank-fulness is about being grateful for what we have – and perhaps for what miseries we have avoided. To be thankful does not mean we deny problems or ignore unrealized dreams. Thankfulness gives us a balanced perspective. Our problems and worries monopolize our minds, often against our wills. But thankfulness takes effort and intentionality.

A plethora of sad news has recently come our way. Take the disastrous explosion in nearby Indianapolis that demolished 80 houses. John and Jennifer Longworth, a newlywed couple, died in that explosion, according RTV6. Jennifer was a particularly beloved teacher.

The situation on the East Coast has been more awful. The poor folks in New Jersey and New York have experienced loss of life and home, surviving in shelters or in their cold, powerless residences. We have friends who at one time lived in Kokomo and now dwell in New Jersey. Although their house was spared, they are still without power – and she had to have a surgery during this time. She is home, snuggling under the blankets as she convalesces.

Nearly half of our nation was displeased with the presidential election, some to the point of desperation. Folks in some regions are actually sending petitions to Washington for their states to secede from the union. The Texas petition garnered more than 100,000 signatures and reads in part: “… Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect its citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.”

Other states have circulated similar petitions, and a few, all of them Southern states, have passed the 25,000 signature threshold.

A thankful person can be aware of all of the above, but he or she views things in a more balanced way. For example, a thankful person is grateful that Americans have the right to vote, that they exercised the right to vote, and that our nation has the leaders we deserve. If we have good leaders, it is because we practiced wisdom in our choices and deserve to be well led. If we have poor leaders, then we deserve them because of our foolishness. Rather than have leaders forced upon us through royal succession or central committees, we have the leaders we freely chose.

A thankful person is grateful that most of us enjoy the benefits of electricity more than 99 percent of the time. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful. This hasn’t been a wonderful year for me. I lost my sister and have experienced some disappointments. But I have an amazing wife and wonderful children, good friends, and my stomach is (too) full. Sometimes we only appreciate what we had, not what we have. I would like to be different. I want to thank God for my blessings while I still enjoy them. Join me, won’t you?

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.

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