Am I thankful?
Sure I am. As long as it’s convenient.
As long as the gift-giver is within ear’s reach of my thank you. And as long as what I’m thankful for is good, comfortable, pleasant and smells great.
I never thank anyone for rolling over my toe with their cart in the grocery store or thank someone for an unkind word. And I never thank God for struggles.
I mean, how stupid would I sound:
Thank you, God, for NO MONEY to pay the mortgage today.
Thank you that my seven-year-old has emotional outbursts every morning before school that reduce her to a pile of unbrushed auburn waves and tears on the bathroom floor.
Thanks for spilled apple juice, dried and sticky on the floor.
Thank you, God, for the rejection of friends and that crazy mean email last week. Thank you for the tears it cost.
Thank you for the argument I had with my husband last night. Thank you, God, that he doesn’t understand me.
We are usually thankful for blessings.
Gifts. Encouragement. Provision.
We send thank-you notes to mothers and cousins for baby gifts and Christmas packages. We call our pastors and thank them for the sermon. We are grateful for warm beds and fireplaces that glow in our family rooms.
We are thankful because it’s easy and expected.
But the sweet times, the easy-flowing happy times are not what shape me. I am comfortable and will stay the same if everything always goes my way.
Discomfort is the only way I grow. And I am never grateful for sitting in the valley of hurt and pain. I’m never thankful when things don’t work out like I planned.
I stamp my feet instead and no-fair God. I tell Him He doesn’t know what it’s like to be me.
I’m not changed in the lots-of-money, kids-are-well, husband-adores-me days.
But I am changed in the I’m-fat, second-argument-this-week-with-my-mom, worried-about-my-kids days.
This is when I’m moved to trust. I have to because nothing else works.
These are the days when God comes in and under-girds my heart with His own, turns my head to refocus my attention and then asks me to trust.
And I should be grateful that He thinks enough of me to carefully craft difficulty to edge me toward beauty, kindness, and grace with pressure.
I don’t want to just be thankful for the easy. I want to be grateful for the hard. And that involves a choice…one I’m making today.
Will you join me?Leave a Comment
It’s not about thanking God for our circumstances. It’s about thanking God for Who He Is, amidst, or in spite of, our circumstances. Blessed, blessed be.
BAM!! (Another word for Amen =) I love it!! This is something we (HIS children) need to hear and ponder. It reminds me of Job saying “What, should we take only the good and not the bad?” (Paraphrase =)It is hard to say “Thank You Lord for the painful circumstances” but easier to say “Lord I sure am thankful for what I have or who I have become because of them” Thank you so much for sharing this!! Be Blessed, Angie in GA
I needed to hear this today. Thank you.
I have joined you, Sarah. God has been working on my heart about this issue for years now but I’ve only just begun to experience the grace to be thankful for the suffering. Yes, we are to love the giver over the gift on both sides (those gifts we call “good” and those we call “unpleasant”)but I belive abiding faith is when we are grateful for what our Lord gives–both pleasant and unpleasant at the time. Discipline and refinement by fire achieve purity, holiness. “Count it all joy…”!
Debbie @ Cheaper by the Bakers Dozen says
God has been showing me the Bigger Picture in my marriage (I blogged about it on my anniversary a few days ago) and helping me to see how conflict and trials make me stronger – and more like Him. That perspective leads me to a thankful heart in the midst of them (most of the time! 🙂
Good post. thank you.
This was beautiful. Thank you for the reminder of what it means to be truly thankful.
Sarah, so true, so convicting. We must be on the same page in this story called life, as God is speaking to me about gratitude also. I honestly just this morning, in my exhausted effort to drag myself out of bed, said, “Thank you God that I have a job to drag myself out of bed to go to.”
beautiful. so true. love the part of Him crafting us..so so wonderful. thanks.
This is an incredible post! Great job Sarah!
Holley Gerth says
Beautiful, Sarah, I love your amazing heart that’s so strong and tender all at the same time.
Kelly Harbaugh says
Wonderful post! Reminds me of a favorite Oswald Chambers quote: “Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal posession only through conflict.”
When we see it this way, conflict is a gift of faith from God.
This is one that I think needs to be reread on a weekly basis… thank you!
Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience says
Isn’t that the startling wonder? That when we start to give thanks… we realize that we need to give thanks *for everything* — that ALL is grace. It is ALL a gift!
Darcy’s post a few days ago echoes this too — if we only wrote the chapters of our story that we planned, or liked to — we’d miss the best chapters of all.
So we give thanks for the hard — because God is writing good and beauty in these things too.
Beautifully written, Sarah…
God uses you, friend…
We have found so many ways to thank God this past year through our brokenness as we all struggled with our daughter’s cancer. We found so many new things to be thankful for, we take nothing for granted, and we pray for God to give us His perspective in this world. It’s not easy to say thank you for cancer, thank you for poisonous chemo, thank you for suffering; but we did- by God’s amazing grace.
He has shown us so much beauty in the ashes and blessings in the midst of despair. And He has trusted us to carry this burden and walk this road. We thank Him for the privilege of of touching the hearts around us. Most of all we thank Him for taking our cracked and battered hearts and putting them back together for His plan. Broken IS beautiful and if you let God daily fill you up He will leak out of all your cracked and broken places into the world around you.
We found out in the heat of battle that our faith works and our God can be trusted with whatever circumstances life throws at us.
What a wonderful post and so true. Without darkness, we can’t know light. Without struggles, we can’t grow and change for the better.
I have finally come to understand that God is everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly and somewhere in it all we can be grateful.
T J Knowlton says
I needed that kick. Yes, I will join. I am thankful, first of all, for this post. Thank you, Sarah.
Adventures In Babywearing says
Oh, tears. Thank *you* for opening my eyes today.
I love Angie’s Amen Synonym: BAM!! I agree. BAM! “I will Praise Him in this Storm,” “…if this is what it takes to praise you, then bring on the rain.”
Sarah, you shine Jesus.
I Just found your blog and I *LOVE* it. Thank you so much for sharing this!
That was beutiful and oh so true! THANK YOU!
LOVE this – so so so so true!
This is so very beautiful. And true. Thank you…I needed this today.
Sometimes you get to the end of the struggle and can look back and actually be thankful for the pain and the way it changed you. I can do that now, and I’m thankful that God gave me a heart that could change and evolve, instead of being broken and harden by grief. He works in me every day, refining me and processing me.
Thanks for the reminder.
Amazing thoughts. I am so encouraged to have found this blog and feel as though I have found a friend who understands. Bless your efforts and your honesty. I needed that, and it felt good. I am growing in these struggles; to God be the glory.
That’s just where I am and it’s so hard to be thankful when you have a parent who’s health seems to be deteriorating before my very eyes. But you are right on. These are the times that cause us to focus, to learn and grow. Thank you so much for this, you have blessed my heart today by reminding me there is a reason and He is in here to take the burden when it’s to heavy to carry.
Heather Gemmen Wilson says
I love this entry, Sarah.
Beautiful, Sarah. I’m sorry for the e-mail that broke your heart last week. Those are NO fun. But I love your thankful heart and your wisdom that character grows in the hard times. So very true. Hard to be thankful for, but so true.
Soul Stops says
Your words made me think of Laura Story’s song “Blessings” which she wrote based on James 1:2 while her husband was dealing with a brain tumor. You can find her song on YouTube. Thanks for modeling how to make the choice to trust God even when it is hard.