“No!” I shriek. My bellow shakes my very ribs and smacks them down against my diagram. The air from inside suspends into a tight breath.
“No! You want me to give thanks for that?”
My incredulous voice, spoken through gritted teeth, parades the sound my furrowed eyes would make if only given voice. “How dare you suggest I can find gratitude,” I seethe. “You don’t get it. You don’t understand. You weren’t there.”
Gratitude…when my mistake in the firm cost us our biggest client?
Gratitude… when the part I played messed up the entire concert?
Gratitude…during the most barren year of depression ever?
Gratitude…that sickness ravaged a body and my frame could do nothing but weep?
Gratitude…for that abuse?
Gratitude…when I was left alone…hurting…and spent?
Gratitude…in a pandemic where the solitude eats me alive and the end is nowhere in sight?
Oh, how can I possibly give thanks for..that?
I then hear the verse again. “In everything, give thanks.”
The held air escapes my nose in small indignant puffs of air. “No! Not me. I couldn’t. Just no. Life works for everyone but…me. WHAT do I possibly have to be grateful for?”
The smirk turns into tears as the sadness racks my body into sobs that I fear will never stop.
I fall into an abyss, the ladder of escape greased and poisoned. My hands grasp onto the pain that could be visible if only people had eyes to see what is there.
But that’s where the greatness of God intersects my story, and a story of pain becomes a story of hope.
And the gratitude that’s been hiding, buried alive, can dare peak its face out, even amidst the pain. It learns, it too, has a place in this life. The voice of hope clearly reverberates inside the ear of my heart, clothed in compassion and whispered directly to my very being. My mouth softens as I listen to the voice that embodies liquid love.
Not “for,” Dear One. “In.”
"Give me your pain, and all of your thoughts and feelings. Let me breathe life into you and exchange them for my glorious riches. I have so much for you. My love for you is beyond your wildest imagination. Even now. Even in this.
In. Just two little letters begin to allow gratitude to shine as a sliver of hope in the otherwise bleak and weary world inside my soul. My voice hesitantly tries out His words to see how they fit inside. “Not for, but in.” I pause, swallowing hard, eyes squeezed shut. “Thank you, Father.”
Something inside shudders and I can feel that liquid love thawing out what has been locked coldly away for far too long.
My hands, still clutching the pain, drop open and fall to my side. My eyes follow the trail of my fingers, which slowly uncurl, and then relax. My long and heavy sigh seems to snuff out some of the amassed pain.
“Thank you, Father,” I whisper.
“You have been unmovable in your love toward me. In that, I can be grateful. Your love has made me righteous and completely new. In that I can be grateful. Your word does not out void, even in me. In that, I can be grateful. The words that I speak are your very fragrance. In that, I can be thankful. You gave me a source of new life. In that I can be thankful. You will never leave me alone. In that I can be thankful.”
"You are life, itself. In that I can be grateful."
The dam of feelings breaks open and my sobbed prayer becomes one with Father’s until I can’t voice who is praying anymore. My waterfall of words surprises even me with the depth of emotion. I cannot stop. I must allow these truths to surface. To heal. To restore.
“I cannot believe I am saying these words; but… I wouldn’t go back and change anything. You have done more with my life as it is than you ever could any other way. Your unique expression of who You are lives inside me, here among all of the circumstances that we have been through together. That is a history that I am not willing to erase. You Father, your presence…you’re holding me all together. Your love is what makes me whole…even…even in this. You are life itself. I am so grateful for life."
"I am so grateful for Jesus Christ."
For all of us, who at some point in our lives, give thanks in times of grief…
...Gratitude is the currency of hope.
...Gratitude is the language of redeemed…. the righteous…and the restored…EVEN when circumstances clamber for our attention.
...Gratitude is wrought out of a heart that’s been made alive.
...Gratitude is the culture of a person’s interior who knows that the source they’ve been given will never run dry and will be prove to be more than abundant.
...Gratitude looks through the veil of circumstance into the eyes of someone who pulls greater purpose from pain.
...Gratitude sits at the feet of faith until eyes raise up upon the only true source of life.
...Gratitude says, “Thank you for life.”
...Gratitude says, “Thank you for Jesus Christ.”
...Gratitude says, "Now. Even in this.”
Happy Thanksgiving, Friends. During those especially hard times where you see the joy in others and you just want to wrap yourself in a blanket and hide under the bed, remember the two letters. "In", not "for". Oh, how you are loved by our Father. And in that, we can always give thanks.
"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18