She often asked her sister “How do I give thanks in EVERYTHING“?
It seemed too hard. Not quite right. She wrestled with it.
I mean, some things don’t seem worthy of thanks. Like prison walls and tired feet. Aching, tired feet, limping with each step.
There was lots to be thankful for in the midst of the pain and grief. Things like family and faith, home and health, and nature’s beauty around her. She’d been filling up gratitude journals for years, and they helped her see the beauty beyond, even ‘in’ the muck.
She had painted a Bible verse onto a canvas that sat on a shelf as a reminder:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. – 1 Thess 5:16-18
Give thanks in everything.
But the fragile state of her heart, the unanswered questions, all kept her asking “How Lord, how?” She prayed and asked, cried and wondered.
Now, as Fall ushers in a season of Thanksgiving, she ponders in her heart how to gently hold ‘thankfulness’ when prayers hang unanswered. When there are empty seats at the dinner table, again. How to be thankful in the middle of the waiting, wanting and weariness when ‘thankfulness’ sits at the same pumpkin-adorned Thanksgiving table as ‘aching loss ‘.
As the days, months, and years unfold she rests more in the HOPE of her Heavenly Father. She knows she can trust Him, even in the fear and grief. In the unknowing. She is confident, not in knowing but in knowing Him.
He’s held her thus far, even in the fire.
Especially in the fire.
In His unfailing faithfulness and kindness she rests. She knows He holds it all and is thankful. Not for the trial necessarily, but for Him. Thankful for His beautiful peaceful presence. For His hand securely holding hers.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13
She remembers a song she used to sing in church. A song by Nicole Nordeman called Gratitude:
Daily bread, give us daily bread, bless our bodies, keep our children fed. Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight. Wrap us up and warm us through, tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs. Let us slumber safe from danger’s view this time. Or maybe not, not today, maybe You’ll provide in other ways and if that’s the case… We’ll give thanks to you with gratitude, a lesson learned to hunger after You. That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead, and if we never taste that bread.
And today , as she sits at her table with a few grey hairs, more wrinkles, and her grandchildren, she smiles and prays that she can embrace gratitude.
Even if she never tastes that bread.
Gratitude that sees the beauty He graciously, kindly, faithfully offers. Even in the brokenness.
Especially in the brokenness.
Thankful, her heart sings it.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1