Stacey sat in the back of the sanctuary as she looked back at the past few years. The Lord had blessed her in so many ways, both large and small. She smiled at her husband and squeezed his hand as she looked down at their precious daughter, Madison. Miracle Madison as they liked to call her. Born too early, the doctors said she wouldn't live more than a few weeks. When Madison defied the doctors, they gave new predictions. Madison would always have to rely on oxygen to breath. A few short months later, she was breathing on her own. She would never walk or talk, the doctors predicted. Stacey smiled at that one. There were almost times when she wished she didn't talk as much or run so fast. Almost.
The chords of the opening hymn faded as the pastor approached the pulpit.
"We are so blessed," he began. "God could have chosen to just let the world be after Adam and Eve sinned. He could have just said 'Oh well. I gave them their chance. They're on their own now.' But He didn't. He has given us an abundance of blessings.
"We are human and we mess up. But the Lord gives us another chance; not just one chance, or two or three, but as many as we need to get it right. He gives us an abundance of forgiveness.
"He gives us mercy. We deserve nothing but death and suffering in this word. We are fallen creatures trying to please a Holy God! He gives us an abundance of mercy.
"Not only does He not give us what we do deserve, He blesses us with so much we don't deserve. He allows us to enter His presence and see a glimpse of His holiness. He gives us an abundance of grace."
Stacey nodded her agreement, as she closed her eyes to bask in the glory of God's blessing, listening as the pastor continued.
"His love for us is a love much deeper than we will ever understand. He sent His One and Only Son to die for us so we could be with Him. Nothing can ever take that love away. He gives us an abundance of love.
"He is omnipotent. He can move mountains and He can change the hardest of hearts. He can give us strength when we have nothing left. He helps us to make it through the day when our problems overwhelm us. He gives us an abundance of strength and power.
"He is all knowing. When we are at a loss for answers and when we don't know what the next day will bring, He promises to take care of us. He knows the answers to the hard questions. We will never understand His purpose for everything, but we can trust that He knows best, and that He can work all things for good. He gives us an abundance of knowledge.
"When those questions become overwhelming and too numerous, He can calm our hearts. While He may not reveal the answer, He will provide a comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding. When we are scared, He can give us a sense of security. He gives us an abundance of comfort, peace, and security."
Stacey again looked down at Madison, remembering the overwhelming peace both she and her husband had felt, despite the news the doctors gave them about Madison.
"He commands His angels to watch over us. There are many times when He saves us from unseen dangers, whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual dangers, whether they are outside or within ourselves. He gives us an abundance of protection.
" He gave Noah the sign of the rainbow. He gave Abraham many descendants. He spared Isaac. He led the Israelites to the Promised Land. He will not allow harm to come to us. He gives us an abundance of promises.
"His word is infallible. We can depend on anything He says. His word has been proven time and time again. He gives us an abundance of truth.
"He provides for us in ways we cannot explain. He uses ordinary and extraordinary ways to give us even our most basic needs. He gives us an abundance of provisions. This Thanksgiving season, let us not forget, as we look at the abundance of food on our tables, the Abundant One who made it all possible. Join me in a closing prayer of thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Stacey stood and wiped tears from her eyes as she joined in praise.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
"Amen indeed," Stacy whispered heavenly.
Words by Thomas Ken, 1637-1711
Music by Louis Bourgeois, c. 1510-c. 1561