Danny and I started a list at the beginning of the year, detailing notable events worldwide. Danny was of the opinion that 2011 was going to be a year to remember. I really hate it when he's right.
Eventually, I had to give the list up. After filling more than three pages with earthquakes, insurrections, wildfires and flooding -- before even half of the year had passed -- I just couldn't take it anymore.
The cumulative damage, to home and hearth and to hearts around the globe is incalculable. Egypt was near the top of the 2011 list and, if I were still taking notes, would now have a new entry based on the events of the past week.
The economies of the world, and of this nation, were simply taking too much space on the pages as everyone, except the ultra-wealthy, saw a reduction in incomes and spending power.
It has been nigh unto impossible to keep track of the political sphere, here and across the globe, with long-standing tyrants toppled, and Republican hopefuls changing positions in the polls, based on the latest scandal or verbal flub.
And speaking of scandals, the recent one involving Penn State appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. The courage of those who have taken a stand against this insidious and odious evil has encouraged other victims, not just of Jerry Sandusky, but others of his alleged ilk, to speak out. Good for them. And woe to them who call evil good or at least "not that bad -- after all, no one is dead."
Too many headlines contain the phrase "Family members, including shooter, dead" as pressures heretofore unimagined come to bear on a contingent of our culture ill-equipped to suffer loss, whether of affection or affluence. Death seems to be their only escape (or revenge) and one can only surmise that they are afraid (or loathe) to leave anyone behind to carry on without them.
The demonstrations that started with the "Arab Spring" finally made it across the pond and have come to our shores, impacting cities from sea to shining sea.
The Cribbs family hasn't escaped the year unscathed either. A protracted estrangement, never imagined, much less deserved, continues. Danny's vision continues to fade and his mobility becomes more and more restricted. His mother, our last-surviving parent, battles with the unwelcome visitors unique to octogenarians, with hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room on the rise. His sisters, and their families, are revisiting the deprivations they thought they had left far behind them as incomes shrink and unemployment continues.
The devolution, not only of mankind, but also that of the once pristine and oh-so-desirable dream of self-governance that birthed this nation, continues. It's hard to watch. It's hard to fathom. It's just plain sad.
Yet, here we are, on the eve of what remains, and ever shall be, my favorite holiday -- Thanksgiving.
And here I am, fully aware of the perils that surround each of us, keenly aware of the sorrows that have fallen upon us, ready in every situation to give thanks unto the Lord.
Because of his great mercies, in spite of our despicable condition, we are not consumed. Although we may become less faithful with each passing day, his faithfulness is yet extended unto this day. And, although we may grow weary in the waiting, his patience is our salvation. After all, he once waited for me. Does he yet wait upon you?
Knowing that we are like dust, knowing our limitations better than we know them ourselves, he never fails to send rain in its season and bread sufficient unto each day. And not just the dinner table variety either.
Sometimes the bread that gives life comes in the realization that your life-mate truly is heaven-sent.
Sometimes the bread that gives life comes in the form of a week-long vacation with our Colorado girls, memories sweetening the bleak days of the late fall in Nebraska.
Sometimes the bread that gives life comes from an unexpected visit or an unexpected helping hand, or an unexpected gift that brightened the sparkling lights of the midway at the Red Willow County Fair.
Sometimes the bread that gives life comes in an "apt word fitly spoken," whether in print, in song or in chance conversations on the street corner.
And sometimes, the bread that gives life comes in the whispered words "I love you" from the One who has loved from first thought.
Whatever the need, today, there is One who can not only meet it, he longs to meet it. In all things, especially this truth, give thanks.
"However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.'" I Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.