Every time I slid behind the wheel of my cheerful yellow car, I gave thanks. The Lord had provided this used car at an affordable price just in time for a cross-country trip. It was perfect for hauling my toddler and preschooler and a direct answer to prayer. That’s why I couldn’t understand why I had to lose it.
My husband, Larry, and I spent a month on a mission trip in Eastern Europe. The experience filled our hearts and emptied our pocketbooks. Our mission organization required us to raise money for our salary and the trip. Donations came in designated for the trip, however, we returned to short paychecks. We realized some donors had diverted their regular support for our trip, not added to it.
Larry’s elderly grandfather passed away, and Larry’s parents offered us his 1973 green Buick La Sabre. Since Granddad’s car wouldn’t sell for much, Larry decided to sell my car to solve our financial shortfall. The green giant had baked in the hot Arizona heat during Granddad’s decline. Rust spots showed through oxidized paint, the vinyl roof peeled like a bad sunburn, and the dingy interior recalled Granddad’s years of smoking.
Larry and I worked with high school students in one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Their up-to-date sports cars highlighted our rundown vehicle. Our church parking lot gleamed with polished Mercedes and BMWs.
One day, a young man helping me carry my groceries said, “Let me guess which car you drive.” He pointed out cars I wished I could claim. Reluctantly, I pointed to the green dinosaur. “Oh. I like vintage cars,” he said politely.
The car was also unreliable.
One morning it stalled on at a busy eight-lane intersection with my children in their car seats. The kind stranger in the next lane saw our predicament and motioned for us to join her.
A friend secretly had the car painted and installed a new vinyl roof to surprise Larry. Our dated monstrosity sported a fresh exterior. But it was not the sporty yellow car I missed.
I pondered my disappointment that night after carpooling students from Bible Study. I sensed the Lord interrupt my thoughts. Debbie, have you thanked Me for this car?
How can I thank You when I am not thankful?
Scripture filled my thoughts. “Give thanks in all circumstances… “(1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV). “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28, NASB).
To refuse to give thanks now would be blatant disobedience. Oh Lord, You know how I feel about this car. How can you ask me to be thankful?
The pressure persisted. “Lord, I do not feel thankful. This car is ugly and has caused me inconvenience and humiliation.” I took a deep breath and went on. “But if you insist—THANK YOU; thank you for knowing my needs. Thank you that this is your will for me now. And thank you that you will use this for my good.”
Although I did not wake up to a new car, I did wake up to a new attitude.
My grudge and self-consciousness vanished. The car stopped breaking down—maybe because we had replaced every hose and valve, or maybe because of God’s grace.
The next year we left sunny California and moved to northern Indiana. The green giant’s spacious interior and smooth ride provided a delightful trip. It started every morning in the below freezing temperatures with the first crank. Its heater never failed. While fellow seminarians worried about how the salted roads would tarnish their cars, we had no concerns.
The car became a great blessing and moved us to Oklahoma where we finally sold it. This unwanted gift taught me a valuable lesson in the art of giving thanks. It’s not hypocritical to thank God before you feel thankful. Giving thanks is about trusting God, and God really does work all things together for the good of His children.It’s not hypocritical to thank God before you feel thankful. Giving thanks is about trusting God, and God really does work all things together for the good of His children. #thankful Click To Tweet
This post was originally posted as “When Thank You is the Last Thing We Want to Say” – November 26, 2018 at Crystaltwaddell.com.