by ANNIE WESCHE
In everything give thanks;
For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thess. 5:18
Standing together with their feet in the sand, a symphony of ocean waves in the background, the newlyweds looked at each other with smiles that beamed heavenly joy as they soaked in the delights of a dream Hawaiian honeymoon.
She had waited 30 years for this godly husband. He had waited 41 years for this radiant wife.
God had scripted something uniquely beautiful throughout their unmarried years of serving the Lord single-mindedly, till the time had finally come when they were brought together by orchestration of the Faithful One, and in answer to so many prayers.
Their wedding was more beautiful than they could have dreamed and filled with sacred moments. When the groom first saw his radiant bride adorned in white. When the bride, held by the gaze of her groom, walked down the aisle to stand beside him. The exchanged vows before witnesses. And that longed for moment when golden bands were slipped onto each other’s fingers as they entered into covenant before God.
And now, on their honeymoon, so many joyous moments were unfolding in this start to a shared life. Emerging from the glistening waters of Hanauma Bay after a wonder-filled snorkeling excursion, they headed back to the hotel to freshen up for their next adventure.
After a shower, the groom looked for his wedding ring on the counter to slip it back on, but to his dismay it wasn’t there. Where had he set it down? Hadn’t he taken it off before showering … or had he? Going to his bride he painfully confessed, “Sweetheart, I’m so sorry, but I can’t find my wedding ring.” Her eyes grew wide with concern, and together they began hunting through every inch of their hotel room for the precious gold band.
As they searched and re-searched every place imaginable, a sinking thought came to both of them — could it have been lost in the ocean while we were snorkeling? The groom tenderly took the hands of his new wife and led both their anxious hearts with words of faith, “I know this is so hard, sweetheart, but God tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. We must give thanks, even in this, and show Him that we trust Him.”
“I just can’t be thankful for this!” his teary bride replied, shaking her head. “We’ve waited too long for these rings to be on our hands … it just can’t be lost!”
Anxiously, they headed back out to the bay. The sympathizing friend who had taken them out snorkeling earlier that day donned his gear and returned to the water, embracing the impossible task of searching the ocean floor for the gold ring. Meanwhile, the heart-aching bride walked the beach with a sign in her hands that read “Lost: one wedding ring”. But as the day began to fade, no ring had been found. Needing to leave for another island in the morning, they made one final, hope-filled attempt to be reunited with the groom’s ring. They placed a small card in one of the concession shacks along the beach appealing to anyone who may find a man’s wedding ring to call the number listed.
While it’s true that a ring can be replaced, that gold band held such depth of meaning for both the man and woman. That ring was a part of their long-awaited wedding day. It was that ring used in the ceremony where their vows were given to one another before the throne of God. And that ring which was uniquely engraved with “Psalm 34:3” — memorializing what they had each prayed during all those years of waiting for one another. “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (emphasis added).
That evening and into the next day, the new wife wrestled with her disappointment and questioned how such a loss could serve any good purpose. Carrying his own disappointment, her husband continued with gentle encouragement that they needed to give thanks and trust the Lord.
Eventually, the tender working of grace led the wife’s heart to surrender her disappointment into God’s wise hands. She came to her husband with the acknowledgement that she was ready to give thanks. She didn’t understand, but she could trust the Lord and His unseen purposes.
Beautifully so, it was that very same day that a message came through to their hotel — the ring had been found! Not only had the ring been spotted shining on that vast ocean floor, but the treasure-finder had also seen the small note left at the concession stand! God led someone to find and retrieve the sacred token, then led that someone to see the small “lost ring” sign, and then brought that treasure all the way back to the only hand it was meant for. What had been surrendered as lost was never, even for a moment, lost to God.
. . .
This beautiful and true tale is my parents’ story. I have heard it many times throughout the years, often asking Dad if I could hold his ring. He would smile, slip it off, and hand it to me as I took it reverently in my hands, looked again at the inside engraving, and marveled at the journey the ring had taken. But beyond its time lost on the ocean floor amid stunning tropical fish and swirling sand, and even beyond its miraculous journey back to them, what truly fills my heart with awe and worship is the nearly 40 years of covenant that it represents.
At the very start of their marriage, God gave my parents this life-shaping lesson of obedience and trust which would lay a powerful foundation for their marriage and family. And it was only the first of many, many more opportunities to give thanks in all things — the hard, the disappointing, the irritating, the challenging, the unexpected, and even the heartbreaking.
I treasure the beautiful heritage of faith that God has given me in my parents’ lives of obedience to His Word. In every new trial and challenge, my father has led us to give thanks in all circumstances and trust the Lord. I have never seen such a steadfast and ready obedience to this command as I have seen lived out by my father. When we lost our home and were unsure of where we would live, he humbly got down on his knees and gave thanks not only for God’s faithfulness to care for us, but for the opportunity to trust Him in such a desperate situation.* When my beloved mum went to be with Jesus after her six-month battle with brain cancer, I witnessed my father — through weeping and deepest grief — give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and purposes beyond what we can see. I have been a front row witness to this faith-led obedience and to God’s glorious faithfulness in response.
Answers to our prayers don’t always come so miraculously as with an ocean-recovered wedding band. And understanding what God is at work to do in and through our difficult circumstances often requires trust-filled waiting and surrender. But in our obedience to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Ephesians 5:20 to give thanks, we turn away from the stumbling blocks of pride, self-pity, and worry, and instead fortify our trust in God and His wisdom. When we choose to give thanks to Him in all things, we are thanking the very One who holds all those things safely and masterfully in His hands. And as we display our trust in Him through our thanksgiving, we shift our focus away from our circumstances to gaze into the face of perfect faithfulness, goodness, power, grace, and matchless love.