Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Light of Love and Gratitude Even in the Valley!

Core Thought: Love is a light that darkness can not extinguish!

This week I have had some encounters with the power of love even in the valley of the shadow of death.

First, one of my church members lost her adult son in a tragic airplane accident last week. He was an experienced pilot, and it is believed that a freak "micro burst" caused the vintage biplane to crash. Yet, even in the shadow of such a tragic loss, God reminded this exceptional Christ follower's family and friends that in spite of grief and pain and loss, that his life was (and is) worth celebrating. There were so many, what I call "substantial" expressions of gratitude for his life and love and generosity and faith. A young man sang an original song at the graveside, and the line that caught my attention was simply, "thank you for living this way." I hope we all can have someone say on the day of our funeral, that they were grateful to God for whatever gifts we will leave behind in terms of our love and witness!

Just this evening I had yet another expression of love and gratitude in the deep, deep valley of grief. On Palm Sunday, the husband of one of my church's day care workers (and friend0 passed away after a tragic series of strokes that had left him almost completely unresponsive, and in a nursing home. He, too, was a remarkable Christ follower who loved his Lord and his family immensely. His family is very, very close, and they genuinely enjoyed their time together. He was in his late 50's and left way too soon for his family. Well, tonight I read his 17 year old son's and his wife's testimonies as to what they have experienced in this long journey through the valley. His son (one of three completely devoted children) talked about his father as his hero, and how painful it was to finally let him go, and how important it is to love the people in our lives while we have them.

I have been around this family for 20 years, and I knew that this youngest son is devastated in his loss, but very, VERY grateful that he had such a great father. The same is true of his wife's (and best friend) testimony...that of grief, yes, but also in gratitude for having been given such a wonderful friend in her husband of 30 years. It never ceases to amaze me at how powerful gratitude and love can be, even in the midst of such grief. Paul was SO right (and I'm sure the Holy Spirit will agree since He did the inspiring of these words!) when he proclaimed in 1 Cor. 13:7, 8 "It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I believe these words...and this week, I've seen this truth in these two families. May we each give people a reason to thank and praise God because of the way we live!

By the way, have you thanked someone in your life for "living this way" lately? Maybe it's time!

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