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Don’t Give Thanks For Things That Didn’t Happen?

Ed, my neighbor next door, has been like a wet blanket lately. The stretch of wet weather we have been having has soaked into his attitude and mildewed his patience. He challenged me on Sunday as I was coming home from church and into my house. “Did you pray for dry weather or thank God for all the rain nobody wants?” he asked accusingly. I confessed honestly that I hadn’t prayed about the weather in the church prayers. This led Ed to the statement, “Easy to see you are not a farmer and you cannot see where God needs to act in this world of ours.” We had a discussion over coffee about the awareness of God in all areas of life that left Ed unconvinced.

First I mentioned the poem by Mary Stevenson called, “Footprints in the Sand.” Ed reluctantly let me read it to him. The poem pointed out that often in anguish, sorrow or defeat we cannot not find God’s footprints beside our own. The poem accuses God of not being there for them when God is needed most. In the poem, the Lord says that when we could only see one set of footprints in the sand it is because He is carrying us.      

Ed reminded me that no one has carried him since he was a tiny kid and that the poem didn’t even rhyme. I said that I like to give God thanks for awful stuff which could happen to me but didn’t or doesn’t. There are terrible things that might happen to us, but thankfully don’t come to pass. I thank God for keeping myself and others safe and free from the worst situations possible. Ed thought that I was pretty silly, but God is sparing people from bad things all the time. I told Ed that there were folks that we supposed to sail on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, but could not go because of a change in circumstances. After it had sunk, they were thankful for not being able to sail on it.

There are certainly tragedies happening, all the time, but God spares individuals and thousands from ones that might have happened. In 1961, a bomber broke apart over North Carolina and dropped two atomic bombs in the area around Goldsboro. One of the bombs had completed all the steps necessary to go off, but it didn’t. It didn’t go off because the switches necessary to set off the blast were damaged in the fall because the parachute didn’t open. An atomic explosion was prevented because two wires did not cross. Each bomb was 250 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said that the nuclear explosion was avoided by the slightest margin of chance. I say that it was averted by God being aware, and preventing what might have happened.

I pray in thanksgiving that God has prevented judgment and condemnation for all who believe in his Son Jesus Christ. There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Thankfully, God does not count our sins against us which He might have done.

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Raymond Maher
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