I don’t mind telling you, thing have been a little rough for our family lately.

I don’t mind telling you, thing have been a little rough for our family lately.  In addition to the chronic issues related to my wife’s health, I had rotator cuff surgery on my shoulder and have been rather limited.  And … I will be honest.  Things have been rather tight financially as well with all the extra medical bills.

Now, here we are coming up on Thanksgiving, and it is tempting to focus on our physical, and material difficulties.  But when you are laid up in a recliner with doctor’s orders to rest, and when you are rather helpless to do much for yourself, you have a lot of time to think.

During those times, to tell you the truth, I often started feeling blue.  But then I would remember my family.  I am so thankful for my family.

First of all, I am thankful to have such a loving and devoted wife who cares and nurtures our family and, as my true partner in ministry, nurtures our church as well.

I am thankful for my daughter Mollie Mae—how smart, and sweet, and talented she has become.  In fact, that was my prayer for her as she was growing up.  Every night before bed, I would pray that God would help her to grow to be a good, sweet, kind, gentle lady.  And she has. She is now at the University of Central Arkansas on a full academic scholarship in the honors college.  She has just been elected as treasurer of her sorority.  In addition, last summer, she completed a ten week mission trip to South Asia.  I am thankful for her and so proud of what she has become.

I could go on, and name every member of my family.  My other daughters, my son, my grandchildren, my sister, my brother—all mean so much to me.

I have so much to be thankful for.  But most of all, I am thankful for the love, care, and guidance of God in my life.  Without God, there are times when my life would be rather pointless.  But, God loves me.  God loves me enough to send His Son to die for me.  And God has prepared a place for me beyond this life where I will live with Him and with my loved ones forever.  What can be better than that?

This is an article for Thanksgiving.  Now, I know that as a minister I’m supposed to simply remind you to be thankful for your blessings.  However, if you’re thinking of blessings like your electronics equipment, your new car, you bank account, your new tablet computer, an annuity fund, or your house, then you are going to miss it altogether. 

I know that many of you have had personal difficulties lately as well I have.  Rather than focus on those, be thankful for the people you love and who love you.  Be thankful that God loved you so much that He gave His only Son for you.  Count your spiritual blessings this year, especially the blessing of relationships you hold dear.  If you focus on them, then you will understand what real gratitude is all about.

 (The Rev. Al Henager is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Heber Springs, Arkansas.  He can be contacted at alhenager@gmail.com.)