I’m not sure what sort of year you’ve had so far. While last year was challenging for me and my family with my recovery from an unexpected illness, surgery and the sudden death of my dad, 2016 has been very different.
My son Matt and his wonderful wife gave birth to their first child, our first grandchild, and to say he is the light of our lives is an understatement! While we still miss my dad, we are celebrating new life and thanking God for His many daily blessings.
So my message this week is simple – no matter how it looks, I am determined to trust God to bring good from it and I am choosing to intentionally be grateful for each day – regardless of the “gifts” it holds and how they may look to me. I want to share a story I read in a devotional by Rabbi Eckstein that I think summarizes this perfectly:
“One of the greatest Jewish sages to ever live was a first-century rabbi named Akiva. There are many stories about Akiva, but one is more a tribute to his teacher then about the great sage himself — a man named Nahum Ish Gamzu.
Nahum was his given name, but the other two words were part of a phrase that he was known to say: “This, too, is for the best.” No matter what happened in Nahum’s life, he saw it as a gift from God. Situations that would lead most people to despair had no effect on Nahum. Akiva learned from his example.
In one story, Akiva was traveling at dusk. He needed a place to spend the night, and so he entered the nearest village and knocked on the door of the first house he saw, hoping to find shelter and a place to rest his head. But the homeowners turned him away. As did the next owners, and the next, and the next. No one would take him in! Eventually, Akiva gave up and set out for the woods instead. “This, too, is for the best,” he said.
In the woods, Akiva lit his lamp so that he could study. He also had a donkey with him to help carry his things and a rooster to wake him in the morning. But soon, a lion ate his donkey, another predator devoured his rooster, and a strong wind blew out his candle. But all Akiva said was, “This, too, is for the best.
When Akiva woke in the morning, he discovered that the village he had passed through the night before had been pillaged by the Romans. The inhabitants were sent into captivity. Finally, Akiva understood God’s providence. Had he stayed in the village, he, too, would have been in captivity. If not for God, the Romans would have heard his donkey or his rooster or seen the light of his candle, and they would have captured him in the woods. Akiva could see how everything truly was for the very best.”
I wish you and your family a truly blessed Thanksgiving. I am very grateful that you take time out of what I know is a busy day to read what I have to share and I hope you will continue to do so.