Today I went digging through some journals and searching for a number.
1,455. A magic number from many years ago.
I had found myself in a sorrowful, difficult place. I mourned; I doubted; I denied. I knew 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It sounded ridiculous.
I dared God. “You say I can give thanks in all circumstances. Ok. Make me thankful. Prove to me that this is possible. Help me say thank you–even for this.” I opened a Word document, and I started counting the grace I found in a day. Windy back roads. Lavender tea. A doctor’s kind eyes. Forgiveness from my six year old. The dog’s wagging tail. A homeschool science experiment that actually worked. Learning to wait.
At 100, I bought a journal to log the grace I was finding. I thought, “I’m a long way off, but this is, at least, a nice thing to do.”
A roly poly in a little girl’s hand. Every week’s date night. Smiley face balloons. New neighbors who know the Lord. The storm holding off until we got indoors.
I began to think, “Could it be that God will really take me there?”
The book of James. Ceiling fans. A God who is strong enough. Four perfect brown-speckled eggs nestled in sand. A church full of worshippers.
1,454 beautiful and hard things later, I finally saw the grace. I wrote that thing, that sad, difficult, loss-of-faith provoking thing on the list, and the Lord continued to show me new grace. At 4,334, I bought a second journal.
Rejoicing, praying, giving thanks—this is God’s will for us. What is God’s will cannot be thwarted. When we find giving thanks impossible, He moves in us. He plants seeds, waters them, shines warmth upon them, and breathes gentle winds to strengthen them. Jesus did not die so that we might flounder in a hard world and miss His glory. If you look, if you ask, He will bend your heart to listen and to seek and see the good. This is my story.
There are many, many things that I have not put on my thanks-giving list. Things so hurtful I can’t yet believe that God will work redemptively through them even though His Word promises me such. I believe that it is significant that the Bible does not record Jesus being grateful in Gethsemane or on the cross. I believe He too understands that the fight for thanksgiving is sometimes like dragging yourself up from the bottom of the ocean. But I know that our God is not finished with us until the day we stand before Him. He makes all things possible, even making dark, bitter hearts glad again.
I believe that the fight for gratefulness is worth entering. Worth obsessing about. Worth asking for.
When you find it, shout it to the world, so they might find it too. Thirteen years ago, our oldest child decided to become a Christian at North Wake’s Thanksgiving service because one of her peers stood up to tell what He was grateful for. The gratefulness you find and share today is contagious.
Fight, children of God. Dig your heels in and look for the grace. This is the will of your God for you, and it gives Him much glory.