October 12, 2011

A Rhetorical Question

We began our Thanksgiving Day church service with a rhetorical question: What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? (Psalm 116:12) According to Wikipedia, “a rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the (often obvious) answer to the question must be.” Well, on Thanksgiving Day 2011, what is the obvious answer to the question asked in Psalm 116:12? The answer is not really obvious to the person who is blinded by sin: nothing. God has given us so many temporal and spiritual blessings in the past year, that there is really nothing that we can give to Him in return that would carry any weight in the balance. And yet, our response should be different. Out of gratitude to God for what He has done for us, we should desire with all of our heart to dedicate all that we are and all that we have to Him.
At our traditional family Thanksgiving meal, I noticed that our daughter had created a ‘Thanksgiving tree’ on the wall in the dining room. On that tree were taped papers with the words that my grandchildren said they were thankful for. At the base of the tree was the name ‘Jesus’. I was happy to see that. On the branches were other words like: Church, Daddy, School, Opa and Oma, frogs, lions, food, etc. What a great idea. I wondered how those words would change as these youngsters would grow up. I hope and pray that ‘Jesus’ will always be found at the base of their tree.
Another tradition we have as a family (perhaps you do it too), is that after the main course of turkey and ‘all the trimmings’, and just before dessert (apple, pecan, or lemon meringue pie), we all have to tell one thing (and only one thing) that we were especially thankful for in this past year. That is of course very difficult to do. Not because we cannot think of anything to say, but because we have to limit it to only one thing. I started the round off by saying that I was thankful that my wife Lena was granted a leave of absence to stay home to take care of me. My son-in-law was thankful for this blog and the number of people it has been able to impact. My oldest grandchild expressed thankfulness for “the hard times, because it makes us more thankful for the good times”. (Deep stuff for a 12 year old!) My four year old grandson said “Opa!” Another was thankful for his Pastor, and the faithful preaching he tried his best to bring forward each Lord’s Day. Not an easy task. My dear wife said something I did not expect. “The Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances", so we must be thankful also in our ALS circumstance. What? you may say. Yes, it is true. God has used ALS to bring our family closer to Him, closer to each other, and closer to our church and school community and for that we "give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good because His mercy endures forever".

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