Friday, March 2, 2012

Gratitude, Part Two: The Practicalities

I’m pretty sure it’s No Compromise (Keith Green’s biography)* in which there’s a woman who drives everyone crazy by saying things like, “We’re out of milk, praise God!”. This is one part of what I’m aiming for now: acknowledging God’s involvement in the small and seemingly insignificant moments that don’t go my way. It will take a lot of retraining to respond to fresh crises and disappointments with the same kind of thankfulness that springs up so naturally in happy moments, but I expect I'll have daily opportunities to strengthen my thankful-muscles.

The second part of my goal is the harder one: I want to acknowledge God's involvement in and become deeply thankful for the big trials that have left me bruised and occasionally bitter. Though my head’s on board with the logic behind this aim, my heart's finding it much harder to accept; there are things I don’t yet feel ready to give thanks for. Like forgiveness, I think learning to be thankful for some things will be a slow and lengthy hike in the right direction, with God holding my hand and catching my stumbles each step of the way. 

I tested Him yesterday, sitting on the lounge room floor in meditation position (it seemed the most serious and focussed to take) and listing the things I was not-really-but-trying-to-be thankful to Him for. It hurt, I cried, but God showed up, as requested. It ended up being less scary than I’d expected, although I imagine it’ll be just as hard to repeat that prayer next time I work up the courage, and the time after that and the time after that. But then maybe the time after that will be a tiny bit easier, and by the time I’m grey and wrinkly my thanks to God for all that’s been will flow spontaneously and sincerely.

Maybe one day in future I'll respond to new batches of suffering a little more like Jesus, who “entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23) and who fell on the ground at Gethsemane and cried out to God, “I really don’t want to do this, but I totally will if that’s what You want” (or words to that effect, in Matthew 26:39). And maybe one day in future I'll look a little more like Joseph, who, after messing with his brothers (as if tempted to make them pay just a little bit for what they did to him) and crying a lot**, comes to a point where he can say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). I’m not there yet. I’m not even close to being there. But I do trust God (“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”***) so I’m lacing up my hiking boots.

I hope God packs snacks****.


* I ought to check information like this before posting. You should read this book, though, it's pretty inspiring. Just don't read the plane chapter in public, because you'll cry large, ploppy tears everywhere and embarrass yourself.

** Genesis 42:24, 43:30, 45:14, in case you wanted proof.

*** Mark 9:24

**** I don't even know what this metaphor means, but I love imagining us trekking along side by side, and God saying, "Hey, I brought banana chips!" and me saying, "Yay, I LOOOVE banana chips!" and Him saying, "I know!!!"

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