1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We are to give thanks in everything – it is God’s will for us to give thanks. Sometimes, we miss that part of God’s will because discouragement, sadness, or anger rule us instead. I think we all have been there. So let me tell you a little story.
This Christmas season a rather sad event was the cause of great rejoicing and giving thanks. In 2016 my beloved 1994 Honda Accord spent more time in the shop than on the road. My son put it well. One evening, after a failed attempt to fix the car, I exclaimed “my car is driving me crazy!” He quickly responded, “Dad, that car has not been driving you anywhere!” Too true. In fact, the car finally bit the dust in the Meijer parking lot. After many attempts to fix it, we finally sold it to a junkyard and cut our losses. I must admit that I was rather sad, but as I reflected on that vehicle I could not help but rejoice.
You see, my wife and I married in 1993. We were two love birds who learned that it is possible to live on love (and two loaves of bread and a pound of lunch meat every week). But it wasn’t too long after our marriage that our income allowed us to replace an old vehicle. In February of 1995 it was time to replace Stephanie’s (my wife’s) car. We decided on a 1994 Accord with 9,000 miles that a dealer employee had driven for a year. It was a costly expense, but we worked diligently to pay off our car and by June of 1996 the car was ours.
My pastor called the purchase “prudent.” He knew we were planning to quit our jobs and go to seminary (which we did in August of 1997). We wanted a car with a solid reliability record, and this car gave us that and so much more.
With a bit of background complete, let’s return to the present. We bought that car 21 years and 9 months ago! We drove a paid off Honda Accord for 20 years and 6 months. How crazy is that!?
As I look back on that car, I am reminded of the unusual blessings from the Lord. As I recount some of those blessings, please think of ways that the Lord has unusually blessed you.
#1. Thank you Lord for allowing the car to run longer than we could have anticipated.
I viewed my car like the sandals of the exodus generation (Deuteronomy 29:5 says “I have led you through the desert for forty years. Your clothing has not worn out nor have your sandals deteriorated.”). Most cars made, bought, and driven in the northern U.S. do not last that long. The weather, salt, and sand normally take their ugly toll. But not my Honda. God seemed to have his hedge of protection on our car.
#2. Thank you Lord for saving us from the financial burden of a car payment.
Many people are in financial trouble because of debt. Once they get into debt they struggle to get out. Car debt is one of the more common areas. By God’s grace, he gave us a car that ran for 20 years after it was paid off. For a long time, we did not have the money for a car payment. God solved that problem by giving us a car that ran reliably.
#3. Thank you Lord for giving us a car that safely transported our family for almost 22 years.
Our Honda only experienced one wreck. Thankfully, it was in a parking lot. My wife was driving and stopped at a stop sign in the St. E parking lot when another car lost control on the ice and hit her (at 5 mph). That is really amazing when you think about it. Twenty two years that car took our family from place to place to place and the most serious accident was a 5 mph wreck in a parking lot.
#4. Thank you Lord for giving us a car that rarely needed fixed
In the early years, an oil change and occasional breaks was all that car needed. In the last 10 years, we would have one repair per year. It is hard to buy a car for $300 a year. Yet, that is exactly what we had … a car that ran for $300 a year … every year. It is another analogy to the Exodus generation. God made something last longer than it normally would with a reliability record that was unusual.
#5. Thank you Lord for allowing us to buy another vehicle when we needed it
In 2007, our daughter was born. It brought our family from 4 persons to 5. We had three children — one was in an infant car seat, one was in a booster seat, and one was old enough to use the seat belts. Needless to say, the back of our Honda was crammed. I had to move one car seat to load one child and then move it over in order to … you get the idea. I felt like I was play Tetris whenever we loaded all three into the car. But our ’94 Honda was still running. By this time, we had made some car payments to ourselves which gave us tremendous flexibility for our next purchase … a mini-van.
#6. Thank you Lord for allowing me to use the car to teach my son how to drive
When Stephanie and I bought the car in 1995 we did not have any children. In fact, our oldest child was not born until October of 1997. Yet, that son learned to drive in the ’94 Accord. That Accord brought Joe home from the hospital, drove him all over kingdom come, and was still there when it was time for him to learn to drive. That is exceedingly unusual and is just another special blessing from the Lord.
I suppose that I could give more reasons, but I think the point of this article is clear. Sometimes the Lord gives you unusual blessings simply because he loves you, cares for you, and wants to give good gifts to his children.
In the midst of various distresses, the Psalmist encourages us to “consider the Lord’s acts of lovingkindness” (Psalm 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31, and 43). Indeed, the Lord’s lovingkindness is great because the Lord’s character is full of lovingkindness (Exodus 34:6). Sometimes that lovingkindness comes in deliverance from trouble, and sometimes it comes in the form of avoiding trouble … like it did through my 1994 Accord.
So let me encourage you to look for the unexpected blessings. Fix your eyes on areas of your life that you may have taken for granted, and celebrate the kindness and goodness of the Lord.