Lately, there have been a lot of things that have made me question, even if for just a second, God’s goodness.
People I love are hurting. People I love deeply are losing babes and parents and even spouses every passing day. Disease has been apart of my family’s life since I was a child, but just because our pain has been chronic doesn’t mean my heart never throbs. Watching my dad walk through Parkinson’s disease has been like walking from the safety of a shore step by step deeper into a wild ocean, being reminded with every crashing wave that I don’t know how to swim. I know that the present step is the best I’ll get because I can’t go backwards and have no clue how I’m gonna stay afloat one step deeper in the waves. There are days when worry shakes me to my core and sadness floods every facet of my being.
But thankfulness has become ingrained into my thought process, if not because I’m a die-hard optimist, then because this discipline was instilled in me by a college roomie who was always so thankful. Last year, I’m pretty sure it was within my top five most used words on Facebook, if it wasn’t the very top one. Paul tells us in Colossians that a life rooted in the Lord overflows with thanksgiving, so it just makes sense to use the word “thankful” a billion times a day… right?
But what about when your world is shaken? What about when your worries pile up and your sorrows abound and getting out of the bed in the morning is enough to exhaust you for the rest of your day? What about the days that you muster up all the optimism in your bones and still stare at a world void of color?
Lately, I’ve had a bunch of those days. I look at the life that Jesus, in His goodness, has bestowed on me and wonder why it’s seemingly failed me in more ways than one. The real, daily stresses atop a mountain of sorrows and unfulfilled dreams has somedays left me less than the most thankful of Jesus’s babes.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” -Psalm 100:4
The discipline of thankfulness has taught me to search for all of Jesus’s daily mercies and focus me on the present: the one where Jesus is alive, moving, and as faithful as He has ever been.
Thanking Jesus on days when we don’t feel thankful truly fixes our eyes on God’s goodness. When we look for things to be thankful for, no matter how small, we start to uncover the hidden graces that Jesus in His loving kindness set out for us when He dreamt up each of our days. Thankfulness reminds our hearts that each day itself is a gift that we didn’t give ourselves. Our lives are gifts from a good, good Father who thinks about us more times than there are grains of sand on a seashore. He’s a God who promises to supply our every need through the death of His precious Son… who promises that every hope, desire, and longing of our hearts can be filled in Jesus alone.
Thankfulness also sets our hearts on what Jesus is doing now instead of the worries of tomorrow. The truth is, I don’t know if my dad is ever gonna be okay. That’s one step further into the ocean that leaves me nauseous with worry… but I’m not there yet. Right now, my dad is alive. Right now, he can speak to me. He can walk (somewhat) on his own. He can call me on the phone. He can still give me a hug and hold my hand. And for that, I’m thankful. Jesus has been faithful this far, and if I take the time to say thank you, I can see that He’s being faithful right now too.
Friends, when thankfulness seems impossible, remember our eternal hope. Set your gaze on the greatest Comforter, most steadfast Provider, most caring Healer. We have the ability to know the roaring God of Jacob as the humble Shepherd who gathers up the frightened and lost lambs in His arms. We have a mighty Help who rests us between His shoulders when we’re too weak to walk. We have a Warrior Father who avenges us, fights for us, and moves our mountains. We have more than enough for every situation through the love of Christ if we can only teach our hearts through thankfulness to daily see His goodness and run to His strong and caring arms for all that we need.
All my love,