What’s on your “I’m thankful for . . .” list?
I’ve always kind’ve liked the part when everyone’s gathered around the turkey and you proceed to go around the table and share the list of things for which you’re thankful. The things that immediately come to mind are usually those that seem hopeful, or promise a bright future, or make you smile when you think about them. While I do truly feel gratitude for all those shiny things on my list, it also feels a little like taking the easy road – the path of least resistance. When I thank God only for the easy, functioning relationships and situations, it’s a little like calling Him on the carpet for all of the things He’s allowed in my life that are hard and painful. In my wise, all-knowing self-absorption, I want to passive-aggressively remind God that if He fixed all the broken things in my life, He’d get more thanks from me.
I know I’m not the only one who wonders what to do with the things that God has allowed in my life that make my knees buckle and take my breath away in sorrow. I know I’m not the only one who feels hurt, and screams at God that I can’t understand what He’s doing sometimes. I know I’m not the only one because I’m humbled to get to hear a lot of stories of flatirons women. They share with me what God is teaching them and how He’s changing their lives, but also the gut-wrenching consequences of past mistakes, and tragedies and injustices that have no easy explanation or fix. We pray together for comfort in the pain, for hope for the future, and for some glimpse of what God will bring out of the hurt.
So, how to make sense of the command to be thankful for everything? Yes, I said EVERYTHING!
“. . .give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thess. 5:18
God’s will for me is a heart, a mind, a life that exists in a state of thankfulness to Him no matter what is going on. He wants my joyful response to His grace and mercy every day. My ability to truly be thankful for my life as a whole – the good, the bad, and the ugly – strengthens my faith and my relationships with those around me.
So my list at the table will be:
“I’m thankful for today – for all of it. I’m thankful for the presence of my Heavenly Father when comfort is needed. I’m thankful that He is God and I’m not, that I don’t know have to figure out how everything will work best. I’m thankful for grace and mercy that takes the painful and the hopeless and works them for good. Most of all I’m thankful that He doesn’t give up on me when I refuse to thank Him.”
Karen Berge is the Women's Pastor at flatirons.