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Grace Notes - Give thanks
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A few years ago Garth Brooks released a song thanking God for unanswered prayers. The gist of the song was that he was thankful that he didn’t always get what he asked for because that meant God had something better in store for him.

I have to disagree with the theology of the way it’s phrased (because God has promised to hear and answer every prayer coming from a believer), but I couldn’t agree with his sentiments more. I know it’s a technicality, but God does answer, it’s just that sometimes he says "no" or "wait" because that is better for us than getting what we asked for right away. But I digress. In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to take this article today to thank God…even for the things I didn’t ask for. And I hope you’ll do the same.

So here goes. I’d tell you to bow your head and close your eyes, but that might make it hard to read, so just put your heart in that attitude of prayer, and have a conversation with the God who loved you enough to sacrifice his Son to make you right with him, and who wants to hear what’s on your mind and in your heart.

Dear Almighty and everlasting God,

Thank you! Not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. Thank you for the privilege of coming to you, of speaking to you, of being able to count on you for help. You gave us your Son. Of course, you’ll take care of the rest. Thank you.

Thank you even for the things we didn’t ask for. Thank you for the recession that you’ve been using to bring our society, at least to some extent, out from the extreme of living beyond our means. Keep training us through this to appreciate every blessing as a gift from your hand. Thank you for teaching us through this that our life is not about what we have, but who you are and who you have made us. You’ve shown us so clearly, that when our eternity is taken care of through the work of your Son, we can handle anything this temporary world throws at us. Thank you!

And thank you for all the extra time with family that you have given to so many as their hours or jobs have been cut. Help us to use that blessing to your glory and for the good of our families, churches, and all the places that we can volunteer our time to do your good. So thanks for the recession.

And thank you for sickness that has come into our lives, our own or that of those we love. Thank you for reminding us through it that this life and this body is frail and temporary, but our relationship with you is forever and there will be no more sickness or pain with you in heaven.

And thank you even for the death of loved ones you took home to be with you. As hard as it is for us to say goodbye, teach us more and more to celebrate the fact that they are with you, and their joy is complete because you keep your promises.

So thank you both for what Garth Brooks would call "unanswered prayers" and for all the things you gave that we would never have thought to ask.

Oh, yeah — and thanks for the millions of daily gifts you give us that anyone would consider good. Help us take time this weekend and throughout the rest of our lives to ponder all the good from your hand and to thank you for it.

In Jesus name I pray,


"Give thanks to the LORD for he is good. His love endures forever" (Psalm 107).


The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at