In Everything Give Thanks—Even in “Plot Twists”

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by Linda Thompson

As authors, we love to hand our characters plot twists. And we expect them to face them with resilience and fortitude. But what about those times when life hands us our own wild cards? Something we expected doesn’t turn out like…we expected.

2020 has dished out plenty of those. Amen?

For many, this past Thanksgiving weekend epitomized what I’m talking about. Many found themselves celebrating Thanksgiving very differently than they would have wished to. No travel to connect with family. No guests. To add insult to injury, no Black Friday mall hopping. (!!)

And more to the point, for many, grief over newly open places at the table.

A dear friend of mine reminded me of this verse:

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes 5:12)

Prison cell in Philippi where Paul and Silas sang praises (Acts 16:25)

Always. Without ceasing. In everything. So we’re called to give thanks, even in the face of pandemics, financial challenges, isolation, manifest injustice? We’re called, like Paul and Silas, to sing praises even with our feet in stocks (Acts 16:25)? Or like Habakkuk, to exult in the Lord even should the crops utterly fail (Hab 3:17-18)?

How do you do that?

I had an epiphany a couple of weeks ago studying Matthew 7-8 in a small group. Yeshua “taught with authority” (Matt 7:29), then displayed His authority over disease, over storms, over demonic spirits. “All authority has been given” to Him (Matt 28:18). He is on His throne, even through these chaotic times.

Am I living in light of that truth?

I realized that, while I have been in fervent prayer about many of these things, I was fervently praying for my will. My idea of the right outcome. But what if I prayed like Jesus at Gethsemane instead?

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass…; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39)

May the outcome of all this chaos be whatever brings most glory to Him!

We may wonder why God allows evil to appear to triumph, our livelihoods to be destroyed, disease to take those we love. Why 2020, to put it succinctly.

But 2020 is only one chapter in a grand cosmic battle that’s been raging since the dawn of time. He has the big picture. I don’t. I don’t even really know what’s best for me, much less what God is up to as He “works all things together for good” (Rom 8:28).

I wrote in my latest release, The Mulberry Leaf Whispers, about a young woman whose story came from history. Sono Matsuura was the daughter of a legendary Christian samurai (yes, that was a thing) in 16th-century Japan. Bartered off in a peace agreement to the ancient enemies of her house, she questions whether she is a war prize, a hostage, or a bride. She experiences a deep struggle with finding God’s grace in the midst of her new, devoutly Buddhist household.

When Sono is called to make a tremendous sacrifice, she must move forward in brokenhearted trust that His plan will somehow prove a good one. Her story reverberates down the centuries to steel the determination of a brother and sister in 1948, who must also learn obedience through gut-wrenching choices.

I’m doing my best to keep the lessons I learned vicariously through Sono in mind as my husband and I navigate our own plot twist. Michael has loved his thirty-year career as an airline pilot. But as of three weeks ago, he experienced sudden vision issues that may prove career-ending.

On our way to a memorable stay in Hawaii some years ago.

Not what we expected! But while waiting for a diagnosis/prognosis is painful, we don’t doubt this is God showing up. His imprint is all over the timing. We’d recently completed a cross-state move, and Michael had just landed his final flight before a two-week vacation, when the vision problem arose.

We’ve been asking the Lord to work a transformation in some aspects of our lives. If this is what it takes, no price is too high, right? We want to offer soft clay to the Potter’s hands, not stiff necks. And as Sono also learns, while His plan may lead us along some precipitous roads, we can rely on it to be “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).

We want to offer soft clay to the Potter’s hands, not stiff necks. @LThompsonBooks #ACFWBlogs #ChristianFiction #writetips #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves—stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, was a Cascade Award winner and a Christy- and Carol-Award finalist. Linda and her husband, a third-generation airline pilot, live in Arizona.

 

Comments 4

  1. The plot’s really twisted
    in these shattered days,
    and sometimes I’ve resisted
    the call to give praise
    to the God I assumed
    knew what He was doin’,
    but so many were doomed,
    and so many met ruin!
    But still I must sing,
    even giving offence,
    for my worship must bring
    my heart repentance
    for my doubt of the Word
    of our loving Lord.

  2. Thanks so much for these words, Andrew!! I have to say… your poem-comments are one of the best parts of posting on this blog! Thanks for the way you’re letting the Potter work through your gift!

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