This one is uncovered; bathed in nothing but the mere bone of rawness and authenticity.
Thankful. What does that mean?
Thankful. What does it truly mean to be thankful? Thankfulness surely does not mean the passive "hey, thanks" when all is going well. It does not be the nod of gratitude given to a passer-byer. No...True, deep, genuine Eucharisteo is the deep groaning of thanks that exude for from a desolate place of confusion or heartache--a realm of praise that doesn't really make much sense to the fable human mind. Thanks.
I am thankful.
I am thankful not because everything in my life has gone well, but rather, I am thankful because there is a God who cares enough to carry me through trudging times.
Am I thankful when, during my 5-month stint in the nation of Nepal--the place that the Lord has so clearly led me to invest my life into--I survived a 7.8 earthquake that killed 9,000+ people. Many of whom were overtly unsaved--now, crushed under the weight of crumbled buildings and eternally separated from the God that I didn't have the chance to tell them about. The fact that my eyes beheld this very crushing scene. Thanks? When I was a first responder to the scene of a 5-story hospital that collapsed in on itself...with a woman trapped inside, yelling at the top of her lungs for someone to save her....and no physical way to get her out. A crowd of people watching and waiting in angst at the realization that this screaming human would soon perish in the midst of the wretched rubble. Thanks? When I was evacuated from the country against my will with an hours notice to get from a village, back to the city, pack my belongings, and get on a plane headed to the other side of the world...alone. Thanks? When I continued to feel the ground shaking underneath me even when I was back on American soil: my velocity off kilter. Thanks? Even when I returned back to the States in a tizzy, heart still in Nepal, culture shocking at all the gum choices in the gas station and overwhelmed by the fact that within a matter of days, I went from literally sleeping on earthen ground, with senses on perpetual alert, to stretching wide-eyed by my grandmother's luxurious pool. Even then...thanks?
That kind of transition changes a life in an instant. That kind of 'series of unfortunate events' changes a heart. It changes a direction. It changes....well, everything.
Am I thankful then? Am I thankful when my own flesh and blood mother is taking her last cancer-striken breaths right before my eyes? Am I thankful when I attend her funeral in the muddied rain only two days before christmas and nothing is ever the same? Am I thankful then?
Am I thankful when my plans get crushed and I just can't, no matter how hard I try, see what is ahead? Am I thankful when I return to what should be my "normal" and nothing is the same?
What is the limit to thankfulness?
What is the true testing of one's thankfulness--no matter the circumstance?
Well, I am here to tell you that there is no limit to God's grace. There is no stopping His wild, guppy love for His people. His faithfulness transcends any accident, any natural disaster, any misfortune.
Perhaps these testings, brothers and sisters, are the very things that create in us a testimony. Something to be thankful for, indeed.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is happenstance. The Lord is in all and through all. He sees you.
What if we chose to be thankful for the change in life's direction? What is we chose to be thankful for the failed relationships and the deaths and the heart wrenching mysteries? For, all of those seem like terror, but they are actually beautiful; God's sweet way of leading us back onto the paths that He intends for us. Tenderly wooing us into His presence all the more. If that takes death and chaos....then so be it. Am I thankful then?
Ann Voskamp, a fellow writer, speaks long on the gift of Eucharisteo. Eucharisteo, in it's very essence, is the epitome of thanksgiving. It's Greek rendering tells of it. She notes, "complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father's heart.” Thanksgiving - Eucharisteo - is the the surefire channel to the presence of God. When we fling our wounded, gaping-for-air souls wide before the Lord and shower it with thanks, He returns back joy. Never void.
Yes, life changes hard and fast when unexpected events transpire but life also changes (in the loveliest and most healing of ways) when we receive all that life has to offer with unwavering gratitude. Our thanks, after all, is the weapon against the lies of the enemy. It is the thanksgiving that precedes the miracle. The miracle of hope and joy and freedom.
We have the opportunity to take hold of God's precious gift to us, His children: to give thanks...in the deepest utterances of the human soul, in the twisted and slate-opaque fog of times, give thanks.
I am thankful. I am thankful because the things that the enemy meant for evil, the Lord has surely used for good. I have been there - tasting the nauseating deception of bitterness, wrapped in an unthankful heart. I have, too, experienced the bliss of a truly thankful heart; that which is life-giving. Never will I go back the former, for it steals all purpose and joy and praise right from the soul.
Often, we need not change our circumstance in order to be thankful, but only our viewpoint of our circumstance. To be thankful is the most beautiful response to worship the Lord who carries; the unchanging Father of Lights from which every good and perfect gift falls from (James 1:17).
In the abundance, give thanks.
In the need, give thanks.