Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful in Sorrow

“…as sorrowful yet always rejoicing…” -2 Cor. 6:10 Thanksgiving 2015 has arrived! This season stirs emotions of joy and happiness and loss. It brings back memories of the whole family together under the same roof; succulent turkey and buttered rolls; great football games; playing basketball on the driveway; cleaning up after the huge meal (okay, not my favorite memory). It is certainly a time of excitement, but for some people, it can be a time of difficultly as well. Yes, by now we’ve read all of the devotionals about thankfulness and already heard the patented sermons on being thankful. Most of us get that we have so much more to be thankful for than we realize. We get that, when compared to the precious gift of Jesus, we have very little to whine about. We certainly have plenty to be thankful for and need to continually offer thanks to our loving God. But the holidays can stir up sadness as well. We’re reminded of those we love that have passed on. I miss my dad. He died around this time over twenty-five years ago. That was a long time ago, but feels like yesterday sometimes. His sudden heart attack took his life but it also took away the heart of our family. It has never been the same. And that’s okay. As Solomon reminds us, “everything has a season.” But the energy and brightness in the Staples home has never been quite as bright. His legacy lives on, however, through a bunch of bright and happy grandkids. He would be so proud. I miss my oldest brother Pelham. He died five years ago of cancer. He was healthy and energetic and determined, but the Ewing Sarcoma in his back did its damage. He was the rock of our family, especially with the passing of my dad. Suddenly he was gone. He was the true “big brother” to me. He called to check on me and made sure his little brother was doing okay. I miss those calls about life, football and family, but I’m glad he’s no longer suffering. I miss my second oldest brother Marc. He died earlier this year from the complication of ALS. He and his wife Brenda came up to the Ozarks to visit around this time last year. I took him up to the Wilson’s Creek Civil War battlefield and he loved it. Most would be bored, but, like all the Staples’ brothers, Marc loved history. Marc could appear tough on the outside, but he had such a soft heart. I miss our long talks about life and God. I miss Richard Beach. He died five years ago from cancer. He was my boss and mentor for twenty-eight years. I learned so much from him. He died shortly after the Doulos-Shelterwood program closed its doors in Branson. I loved Richard’s vision of discipleship and all of the relationships built in my tenure with Doulos. I miss many other dear family members and friends and co-workers. We all have suffered loss. But, though I miss them, I am so thankful for them as well. I am thankful that I had a season of life with them. Though I am sorrowful for their loss, I am thankful for so much I have gained. I am thankful for my beautiful wife, Jeanie, my best friend and love of my life for 34 years; I am thankful for my mother and the privilege to get to care for her many miles away; I am thankful for my in-laws; I am thankful for my wonderful children, Elizabeth and Eric, and their spouses, Mark and Jennifer; I am thankful for my beautiful granddaughters, Reese and Lucy; I am thankful for my remaining brother Bob; I am thankful for my many brothers and sisters in law; I am thankful for all of my nephews and nieces; I am thankful for countless friends (who stick closer than brothers); I am thankful for all of the people whom I have had the privilege to get to walk through life with in the counseling office. But mostly, I am thankful to my loving God and His Son Jesus Christ who, by His grace, allows me to live life redeemed and saved. Yes, I am sorrowful for the sunsets, but I am rejoicing in the sunrises as well. God is so, so good and this Thanksgiving there is truly reason for rejoicing in having abundance… …and in suffering need. By Eric Joseph Staples ©