A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

It had been discovered that a child in the fourth grade at a Christian school—nobody knew who—had head lice. So everybody in school had to be examined by the school nurse for those blood-sucking critters. “It’s gross!” said the kids, “makes you want to throw up.”

But the teacher of the fifth-grade class said, “Look, kids. It’s no big deal. I’ll let the nurse check me first,” he volunteered, “and you can see how simple it is.”

In front of the class, the nurse checked his scalp. “No lice,” she said. But quietly, so the students couldn’t hear, she said, “But see me in my office just as soon as I’m free here.”

Ominous words. “No lice, but—”?

The “but” was that she had found a dangerous skin cancer in his scalp. The early diagnosis and treatment saved his life. That dear Christian teacher gladly says, “Yes, I thank God even for an infestation of head lice in our school! I’m sorry for the inconvenience to others, but it saved my life.”
First Thessalonians 5:18 says,

In everything give thanks;
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Give thanks in everything? Yes, give thanks in everything. Even petty, annoying things, like a flat tire, a disagreement with a coworker, a traffic jam, lost keys, or an internet outage? Yes, in everything.
Give thanks for even serious, threatening things, like a child’s undiagnosed illness, a serious drop in the stock market, a friendship broken? Yes, in everything.

Harder still: must we give thanks in everything, when it means the death of a dream, the loss of a home, the loss of a job, the death of a spouse? Yes, give thanks, “Because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This terrible loss was the will of God for me? Can I understand it? No. Do I know why God let it happen? No. Will I someday know why it was God’s will? Perhaps not, not until I stand in His dear presence and see how very much His endless love planned it for my welfare..

Recently I celebrated with friends their 60th wedding anniversary. They recalled the terrible night, twenty years ago, when the police told them their son had died in a motorcycle accident. With tears, the father said, “I wouldn’t want to go through that terrible experience again. But I would not give up that precious experience for anything either.” A “precious experience”? To lose a beloved child? Only because in some wonderful way they didn’t understand, God’s will was being acted out in their lives.

This past year may have been a very difficult year for you. It was for most of us, I think. I wonder, though, if in those difficult things we suffered this last year, if God wasn’t actually protecting us from grave danger, from deeper heartache, from irreparable loss? Surely, if we knew, we would say, “Thank You, Heavenly Father” when we gather on