Thankfulness in the Thick of Tragedy
edited: Sunday, August 05, 2007
By Danny R. Von Kanel
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, April 27, 2007
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(Finding Ways to Thank God When Your World Crumbles)
Where does one begin to give thanks after facing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the shocking news of Lymphoma cancer, and the paralyzing pain of money woes? One can find it in some unlikely places that point to God’s grace. Such has been the case in my family.
For us in Hurricane Katrina, thanksgiving came through some new found neighbors, new growth, and a new life appreciation. Giving thanks during my mother-in-laws Lymphoma cancer materialized through love’s realization, life’s reminder, and lesson’s learned. Money woes led us to thanking God through what we had, what we did, and who we are.
Thankfulness & Hurricane Katrina
New found neighbors - Prior to Hurricane Katrina, we had recently moved to our new home. We had met a couple of our neighbors but did not know them well. We were all contented to stay in our air conditioned homes and very interacted with each other.
Katrina changed all that. With no electricity we all found ourselves outside. Our homes were intact but too hot to stay inside. Soon, our next door neighbor offered to share with us his generator; the friends across the street gave my wife a single ice cube,
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one of only a handful they possessed; and my neighbor on the other side used his tractor to pull down some trees that were leaning and ready to fall. We talked, we shared, we laughed , and we cried; none of which happened prior to the storm. We thanked God for new found neighbors.
New Growth - Prior to the storm my wife have trimmed way back a tree in front of our house. She left nothing but a foot high stump with thick branches spreading out to a
three-foot height. For weeks it appeared the tree was dead. It was bare so my two grandkids would climb on its branches.
After the storm new life begin to emerge from its naked branches. Now, it is covered with new growth.
Riding with a church deacon to assist my brother-in-law in repairing his home after the storm I gained some new insight on why Katrina came. This deacon said, “Danny, the way I see this storm was God’s way of cleansing his creation. I had lost hundreds of trees on my property but now the whole area is sprouting new growth.”
New life indeed! We thanked God for new growth.
New Life Appreciation - The Katrina devastation did not set in until we stated hearing of the body count. Trees, houses, and destroyed property was nothing to the loss in human life.
Weeks after Katrina I received a call from the funeral home. Months earlier I had done the graveside service for a family who lost their son. Now, this call was to request me to do the funeral for the elderly mom and dad who had drowned in New Orleans Von during Katrina. Standing in front of that overwhelmed family I gained a deeper
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understanding of life’s value. We thanked God for life.
Thankfulness & Lymphoma Cancer
Love’s realization - My mother-in-law had not been acting herself for weeks. Thinking she probably had a mini-stroke, we were not prepared to hear she had brain cancer -- later diagnosed as Primary LNS Lymphoma.
Calling the family in after doing a biopsy of her brain, my father-in-law, who is a man faith, took his wife’s face in his hands and said, “You are beautiful, I love you so much.” His voice quivered and we almost lost it. Standing there with tears in my eyes, I realized how special a family I was a part of. The amount of love that filled that ICU room was beyond belief. We thanked God for love’s realization.
Life’s Reminder - Having first believed that my mother-in-law had brain cancer, we were given little hope. Our next meeting with the doctor I dreaded because I was expecting him to say she had only three months to live. Instead, she had lymphoma cancer and he was going to treat her to cure her.
Since then we have been made aware that her cancer is still very serious and life expectancy is limited. That being said, she has longer than any of us thought.
Nell Allen’s lymphoma cancer has reminded us again that life is short and that this earth is not our home. We thanked God for life’s reminder.
Lesson’s Learned - Through this cancer, and we are only in the beginning stages, we have learned some valuable lessons.
One, we need each other. It is going to take all of us working together to see my father-in-law (age 83) and mother-in-law (70) through this crisis. Two, the doctor’s are
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not in control of my mother-in-law’s destiny, God is. Mistakes have already been made by the doctors proving their limited understanding. We treasure their knowledge but know that she is in God’s hands.
Much education is before us in these days to come. We thanked God for the lessons learned early on and will continue that thanksgiving for future insights gained.
Thankfulness & Money Woes
What we had - Living on a Minister of Music’s salary our income has always been tight. At the time, I was between churches. Then the storm hit.
What could have been tragic financial circumstances for us was not so. Though homes all over our city were destroyed or damaged, we came out relatively unscathed. We had out-of-pocket expenses and down trees but our home was not hurt.
Our state Baptist convention came through for all ministers living in the hurricane areas with a monetary check. With it came some financial relief. We thanked God for what we had.
What we did - Though I was without a full-time church position prior to the storm, a church was dealing with me when the storm hit. Since they were in the storm affected area also, a delay resulted in our starting this new ministry.
The delay allowed us to reflect on our finances and to make some decisions to improve. Without the storm such critical reflection probably would not have happened. We thanked God for leading us to do what we did.
Who we are - Struggling with finances has led us to see afresh and anew who we are in Christ. We are his children and have been entrusted with his resources. We have
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realized we need to be better stewards and learn to live within our means. We thanked God for who we are in Christ.
Thankfulness in the thick of tragedy is possible. As you and your family face hardships, look for ways you can thank God. They are present. Search and find and then let God know of your thankfulness.