On Sept. 15, 2014, I moved into a house in a poor but quaint neighborhood near the St. Charles River in Aurora, Illinois. Nine days later, at exactly 10:35 on a Wednesday morning, two young men robbed my home. I know the exact time because a neighbor saw them carrying a 42-inch TV—my TV—in its original box. They also carted off my computer, smashed a bedframe, and scattered everything, from the contents of file cabinets to the dresser drawers.
I am not a fan of burglary. Fortunately, the Bible doesn’t command me to be thankful for all circumstances, though it does say that I must “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, emphasis added). At first I thought, Really, God? Give thanks in a burglary? So I started a little experiment to see if I could list a few ways to do so in this particular situation. My initial list quickly swelled from a few items to 10.
1. I was not home, and no one got hurt.
2. I qualified as a robbery candidate, which implies that I have a pretty good life.
3. The burglars took my TV, which gave me more time to read, pray, and talk to friends.
4. They smashed my bed frame, but the headboard was too big and needed to be replaced anyway.
5. They didn’t steal any lamps, chairs, pictures, clothes, or spices—and I have a lot of spices.
6. I still have a house on a quaint tree-lined street.
7. I have great friends and family who cared that I got robbed.
8. I had been thinking about getting rid of a few things, and this helped me get started.
9. I stayed up till 2 a.m. having a good conversation about spiritual matters with two police officers.
10. The burglars didn’t steal anything truly valuable, like my hope and joy in Christ for this life and the next.
My list kept going, but that little verse about giving thanks in all things? OK, God, I get the point.