Living in the meantime — count your blessings

Published 4:53 am Thursday, March 17, 2016

In the fifth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul addresses an issue that applies to us even to this day.  As we prepare for Holy Week next week and think about the death and resurrection of Jesus, we also remember that Jesus promised he would come again — and we wonder when that will be. 

Even at the time Paul was writing so shortly after Christ lived, died and ascended to heaven, the Thessalonians were worried about the delay. Why hadn’t Christ returned yet? Paul says the time will come, we don’t know when, but the important thing is to be ready.

In chapter 5, verse 23, he says, “I pray that your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Since we too are waiting, just like the Thessalonians, Paul’s words are compelling for us today. Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”

That’s how you live in the meantime — easy for Paul to say, but how do we do that — always rejoice, give thanks in all circumstances, pray constantly? How do we do that in the midst of all the things that happen to us — illness, suffering and evil all around us. How can we rejoice?

To get to the point of rejoicing always and giving thanks, you need to count your blessings not your tragedies. In her book, “The Pastor’s Wife,” Sabina Wurmbrand tells of when she, as the wife of a Rumanian pastor, was put in prison by the Russians. One day as the women were marched from the work factory back to their bleak, comfortless dormitory, a friend of Sabina’s secretly plucked two raspberries growing by the side of the road and carried them back with her. When they got to the dormitory, she opened her hand, showed them to Sabina and gave her one. They were delighted by the two partially-crushed raspberries because they didn’t have anything else.

If life does seem bleak and so many things don’t fit the ideal you’re looking forward to, look for those crushed raspberries. They are there; count your blessings not your tragedies, and you can rejoice always, giving thanks in all circumstances — especially when you pray without ceasing.

REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. His email is dalembesq@aol.com.