by Molly Audiss
I Thes. 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I have two words for you that should strike horror in your heart and send chills down your spine-TENT CAMPING! My first night in a tent was, well, memorable, to say the least. It was years ago now, but I remember it like yesterday.
I grew up camping and loved it. We had a nice long trailer, complete with a kitchen and a bath, and real beds. True wilderness survival! My husband never camped as a child, but he has been a chaperone on many 8th grade boy’s camping trips in the last several years. He loves tent camping.
Our boys we 5 years old, 3 years old, and 8 months. I know, WHAT WERE WE THINKING! We decided to go in May, so it would not be too hot. It happened to be the hottest day of the summer! We stopped off at Walmart to pick up “a few things.” One hour later, and $150 poorer, we finally felt ready for our two nights in the woods. Walking out to the car, I was wondering if we could have used that money to find a nice hotel with a free breakfast, but that was just the city-girl inside me. I mean, how can you sit around a campfire and roast marshmallows in a hotel, right? Where’s my sense of adventure?
The weather had not cooled down much by the time we were ready for bed. Our family slept in one tent, and we kept all of our clothing and supplies in another tent. I made sure that the supply tent was zipped up tight; we didn’t want any critters in there, eating our breakfast. I fell asleep on my air mattress thinking, “This isn’t so bad. This is kind of fun.” But at 2:00 a.m., the thunderstorm hit. Have you ever been awakened by rain beating down on your face? I hadn’t either. My husband and I jumped up as fast as jackrabbits to zip up the linings around the tent windows. I was so groggy, I couldn’t figure out that the linings were tied down. Rain was pouring down in sheets, right into the faces of my sons. Those boys slept right through the entire storm! My husband was having just as much trouble with his window, and the rain poured in, soaking our pillows and bedding. The entire storm lasted less than 15 minutes, but long enough to initiate me into the wonders of tent camping. As we tried to find a dry place to lay down, I remembered a mistake I had made. I had zipped up our other tent, but I had not closed the window linings. I told my husband of my error. He went out to check on our things. I heard him make a frustrated noise. When he returned, he told me that our other tent had collapsed. He would check out the damage in the morning.
Ladies, are you like me? Once you are awakened in the night, it is almost impossible to go back to sleep. There I lay, hot and wet, and wide awake. That is when I realized that I had to go to the bathroom. I told myself that I really did not have to go, and I could wait until the morning. But that didn’t work, because I really did have to go. Well, our campsite just happened to be the farthest one from the shower house. That was alright, because there was a shortcut trail made through the grass. Unfortunately, that shortcut was impossible to see in the pitch black darkness. So, there I went, looking gorgeous in my nightgown with a shirt over it, hot pink flipflops, wet hair, and red and white striped umbrella. I was not loving the idea of tent camping. I was wondering what I would do if anyone saw me. I was thinking about my nice bed at home. That’s when I thought about you. Yes, ladies, walking the road to the shower house at 2:30 a.m., I thought, “I am going to write about this.”
I lay awake that night in the tent. An interesting thing had happened to the air mattress. Most of the air had gone out of it, but just enough air remained to make bubbles around the sides of the mattress. My husband and I slept on the ground, but had nice bumpers around us so we didn’t fall out of bed! Everyone else was asleep, and I started talking with the Lord. I wondered if He was laughing. That’s when the humor of the situation hit me. This was really hilarious. I looked around at my family and thanked God for the time that we get to be together. I know these years are going quickly, and these are great memories. I thanked God that I had a nice, dry house to live in. I thanked Him that I had indoor plumbing. Finally, I fell asleep.
I Thes 5:18 tells us “in everything give thanks.” It does not say for everything give thanks. I believe God wants us to always remember to thankful to Him, even in hard times. I believe that this verse tells us that we are to be grateful to God, even through trials and difficult situations. I do not believe that He is telling us that we must be happy about the trials, or enjoy the problems. But we always have so much to be thankful to God for. We have salvation. We have a wonderful country in which to live. We have our great churches. We have family and friends. In the midst of the storm, remember the good things about your life.
There are heartaches and burdens that I cannot even begin to understand. Death, abandonment, chronic illness, betrayal, slander. There are also the more general burdens of financial hardship, temporary illness, relationship struggles, and the daily stresses of life. But through every rough situation, God is still God and He is still good and worthy of our gratitude. The longer you think about the good things in your life, the more things that will come to mind. Dwell on the goodness of the Lord. He has been so kind to each of us. Can we ever thank Him enough for saving us from hell and giving us heaven instead?
Someday we will be able to look back at our hard times and see how God worked them for good in our lives. Then we will be able to thank Him for everything. Until then, even through the storms, we should remember to thank Him in everything. Thankfulness is a tool that helps us have the right attitude. It changes our stinkin’ thinkin’. Today, and everyday, let’s thank God for the multitude of blessings He has given us. There is so much to be thankful for!