“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” – C.S. Lewis
The sky outside was a dense, soaked gray the last few days. It reminds me of October 2018 when those who chose to ride out Hurricane Michael watched from windows as menacing clouds rose up in the distance then stretched their fingers tentatively toward the ground. Before the power went out, weather experts told us to find a safe place as he pointed to a huge circle on the radar that was dangerously close to the Florida Panhandle. The people who stayed went to the safest spot in the house and took a moment to pray as tree limbs first started to sway and then to crack under the hurricane force winds.
Hurricane Michael, a “monstrous” storm churning with 155 mph winds, came ashore on the Florida Panhandle as the most powerful storm on record. The storm, described by forecasters as “unprecedented,” shattered people’s lives up and down the Emerald Coast of Florida. Much of the area looks like London after the Blitz. But amidst all the destruction, we should pause and thank God for what didn’t happen. We could have lost so much more than roofs, houses and businesses. We tend to think on the bad that happens – and there is plenty of bad in Hurricane Michael, but we should also focus on the worse things that could’ve happen, which didn’t. It is important to be grateful to God about what he protected us from.
If we think about it, we can come up with examples of incidents or circumstances and thank God for what didn’t happen that day. The suspicious test results that worried the doctor but turned out to be nothing at all. A door that never opened. A relationship that never took place.
A threat that never materialized. A virus that was fought off. An accident He prevented. A need He met beforehand. A mistake He kept me from. A path He blocked.
And, yes, I understand that even if the storm wreaks havoc, the unwelcome diagnosis comes or the heart gets broken, we are still to say thanks because God invites us to say thanks then, too. Why? Because He is worthy of it. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1). The place where we seem to most often miss an opportunity to be grateful is when everything turns out fine and we just go on our merry way. We should be grateful in those circumstances because what God prevents in our lives is just as full of grace and gifts as what He allows.
- How can we thank God for what did not happen? How is it different than thanking God for what did happen?