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Bill Coates: Be thankful for Gods goodness
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The psalmist says, “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”

I suppose the underlying belief, at least for people of faith, that undergirds gratitude is exactly that: the Lord is good.

Think on that for a while. In what ways might you say, from the life you live, that the Lord is good? My personal answers include:

God’s goodness is expressed through my birth family. My parents are wonderful people who were great providers when I was under their care. They worked hard in South Carolina textile mills. And though they never had more than enough, they had what was needed.

Now in their early 80s, I still look forward to going home to see them. I eat Mom’s cooking straight from Dad’s garden and ask them questions about matters of family history that arouse my curiosity now more than ever. Their faith and love still keep me grounded and grateful.

God’s goodness comes to me through my chosen family. Claire and I have been married for 40 years and experienced more of the world than we had ever dreamed possible. Our daughter, Liz, is now assistant pastor at Plymouth Church in New York City and is a constant source of inspiration for us. Our son, McKinley, lives nearby and has provided us with 5-year-old Hunter, one of the great loves of our life.

“The lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places,” to quote the psalmist again.

God’s goodness is especially known to me in my calling. I would never have dreamed as a teen that I would have such a rewarding life of the church.

These 18 years at First Baptist on Green Street have been the best of our lives. The bonds of friendship are incredibly strong, the work is extremely fulfilling, and this church’s eagerness to be fully involved in our greater Gainesville community is most satisfying. I love worship and all the people who love leading it, including fellow staff ministers, exceptional musicians, the best choir anywhere and lay leaders who genuinely care about the congregation’s well-being.

A particular source of gladness for me is the relationships with Stuart Higginbotham and Lee Koontz and others who are part of our ecumenical clergy group.

God’s goodness is evident in the placing of my life in this country. Though most people are proud of their country of origin, I simply cannot imagine what life would have been like had I been born in any other place in the world.

My U.S. citizenship means more to me every year, especially when I see refugees streaming into our land seeking safety and opportunity. As a child walking through the church cemetery where my ancestors are laid to rest, I would ask my father about those who died in places such as Okinawa and Normandy. Now those sacrifices move me to tears and ever deeper gratitude.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say I agree wholeheartedly with the psalmist. I truly give thanks to the Lord for He is good. I wish all of you a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving.  

The Rev. Bill Coates is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Gainesville. He can be reached at 770-534-7354 or

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