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Thanks, I Think... Thunk!

CruickshankBobby Cruickshank was a Scottish pro golfer who turned pro almost a century ago, which explains why you wouldn’t have seen this story on a highlights reel sometime. He was the leader of the 1934 US Open Championship after two rounds, but ran into a spot of trouble in his third round on the 11th hole: he hit his approach shot to the green too short, and it sailed through the air straight for a brook that ran across the hole.

In one of those moments that seem to define the sport, the ball landed on a rock that was hardly submerged, and bounced off it straight onto the green. Overjoyed, Cruickshank threw his club into the air, tipped his cap to the crowd, and yelled ‘Thankyou God!’ It was at that moment that his club, familiar with the law of gravity, landed on the top of his head and knocked him out cold.

He was fine, but only ended up tying for third in the tournament.

It can seem like that sometimes, can’t it? You win some, you lose some – but you can never be sure which it is until some way down the track. Was Cruickshank premature in offering his thanks to God? Or presumptuous?

As I write, we in Australia seem to have dodged the bullet with COVID-19 – certainly in comparison to other nations. But is it too early to be thankful to God for this? Is there a second wave about to whack us on our head?

We don’t know, and won’t know how things work out for some time yet. But that is the nature of thanks: we offer it only for things that have passed. It is right to thank God for having spared us so far, just as it is right to ask him to be kind in the future. We can ask him with confidence, but not certainty, for he has shown himself gracious in the past, but only promises to right all wrongs when Jesus returns.

In the meantime: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ (Philippians 4:6)

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