Sunday, January 31, 2010

Giving Thanks

Ok! I'm now officially a blogger...but instead of starting off with something new and original I'm going to be lame and use an essay I've been polishing up for my Senior Thesis class. Hope you enjoy!

“Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12). Sometimes it takes a major wake-up call to remind us of this principle. As a child, I was blissfully unaware of sadness or suffering. Death was only something that happened on the screen or in far off places. When everything is going well, it is only too easy to take life for granted. How true this was for my family during the summer of 2008. My parents had just been blessed with a baby girl and we were all enjoying the liveliness of our little two year old Andrew. Little did we realize just how quickly life can be snuffed out or how soon our faith would be tried through a nearly tragic accident.
Every year our church has a “Day of Rest;” a relaxing day of singing, preaching, feasting and fellowship at a cabin on the Imnaha River. The Imnaha cabin is 45 minutes away from any large town, any grocery store, or any hospital. On that eventful morning we had a glorious time of fellowship and rest. The subject of the sermon was trusting God during times of trial; a concept that seemed foreign in the idyllic, tranquil setting. However, it was not long before our own confidence and trust were set adrift in an ocean of doubt. Through a frightening accident-turned-miracle we were taught to number our days, trust in God, and give thanks.
Little knowing how our faith would be tested in the hours ahead we listened to the sermon emphasizing the need to strengthen our faith and “number our days.” Psalm 90 verse 12, the text, brought out the necessity to give God a heart of wisdom and be faithful during trials. Throughout our own trials later in the afternoon, this verse was unforgettably emblazoned on our minds. Before the day was over we had all been given a chance to live out its admonition and consider the frailty and brevity of life.
Later in the day, people lazed around, picking cherries, fishing, eating, swimming. As the afternoon wore on, people began leaving and a mere handful remained to clean up. Andrew, an exceptionally active and rambunctious toddler, did not adjust well to the slow tempo of the afternoon and before long attracted trouble. Under the supervision of my mother he again and again threatened her patience and wore her out.
At last came the moment he was looking for. Her eyes were momentarily engaged elsewhere and he took advantage of that instant to make his escape. Immediately, Andrew headed for the fast-moving river where he had earlier seen many older kids playing, splashing and jumping in the water. The moment my mother discovered that her son had disappeared, she floundered about, frantically searching for him and calling his name. By pure providence one man remained fishing at the river’s edge. As Andrew’s tiny form came hurtling past tossing and tumbling like a leaf in an autumn wind, Mr. Ellis spotted him and called out for help.
Suddenly the serenity and stillness of the day was broken like a wave against a rock as everyone dashed towards the river en masse. All at once two of the remaining men sprinted ahead to the water’s edge. Seeming to walk on water in their haste, they reached Andrew and pulled his blue figure from the water. Time stood still. In the stillness, we heard Andrew cry and knew that he was alive. There were many tears, there was joy, there was fear, there was hope. But the danger was not over yet. Due to his cold, blueish skin and sleepiness, we decided that it would be best to take him to the hospital.
During the long drive to the hospital that followed, prayer upon prayer was poured out begging and pleading with the God of mercy to have compassion. Despite our fears and doubts somehow every one of us reached a point where there was no other alternative but trusting God.
Each of us quietly bridged the gap of uncertainty and discovered peace like a tidal wave overwhelming and enveloping us. Throughout that car ride we were taught to pray as never before and to trust that the God of all the universe would do right.
By the time we reached the hospital, Andrew was pretty much back to his own active and mischievous self. The doctors, after examining him, discovered no water in his lungs which they explained was in itself a miracle. Relief flooded our senses. Gratitude poured over us and filled us to overflowing. Finally, our family surrounded the hospital bed crying, laughing, rejoicing, and praising God for his mercy which imparted peace and comfort to us like a lighthouse beacon to a ship lost at sea. Our secure little world was shaken that day, and I still tremble to think how easily it could have turned out differently. The day taught us many things; most importantly, to give thanks.
Sometimes God uses frightening events to grab our attention. He used this accident to teach our entire community about the awesomeness of His power and the vastness of his mercy. As the scene unfolded we were forced to trust Him. The reality of death and the transience of life were acknowledged to a greater extent as we began to number our days. At last, we were brought to our knees in thankfulness to God for His great compassion. Long afterward, merely the sight of Andrew brought tears to our eyes and a prayer of gratitude to our lips.


  1. You are lovely, Ms. Anna. I got chills thinking about little Andrew--I can't even imagine how your mother (or any of you there!) felt. God is good. :)

    Kayte Gonnella

  2. Thanks so much, Kayte! It was definitely a traumatic experience for all of us, especially my mom, but God was merciful and brought our family and community together even more through the accident. I'm constantly thankful that God spared him; he is so much fun! :)

    Ironically, Abigail had just been baptized that day!