Rev. Leigh Boelkins Van Kempen
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5: 16-18)
We used to have a plaque on the wall in our home with these words, “In everything give thanks”, which was a paraphrase of the words found in I Thessalonians 5. They could be encouraging words, but sometimes it took a major adjustment in attitude to find gratitude in a challenging circumstance. There were times I would read the plaque, and my reaction would be “Really? Everything?” It can be difficult, sometimes, to find thankfulness amid our trials.
But it is interesting, because this joyful demeanor seems to be driven by choice. People decide to act gratefully, to speak thankfulness and to express appreciation despite their challenges.
If you spend time with any of Resthaven’s residents, across our continuum, you will encounter people who have experienced many losses, many changes and many reasons for sadness. Perhaps they have faced the death of a spouse or child. Perhaps they have moved out of a long-term home. Perhaps they are managing a life-limiting illness. They are people who have good reason to be unhappy, irritable and demanding.
However, that is not what I encounter. Most often, I spend time with people who rejoice, and pray and give thanks. While they may have reasons to feel bitter or despondent or discouraged, they, instead, choose gratitude. While they may have reasons to be demanding or negative or hopeless, they, instead, choose joy. Despite their challenges, they are thankful for everything. Really!