Just the other day...I wrestled with "why". I know we all wrestle with "why" at times, but for me, I guess it was the most real I had ever let myself become in the struggle. Does that make any sense? What I mean is, for once, I didn't try to "hide" my struggle from God. I didn't try to tell God something He already knew I was only saying to try to "appease" Him. In the past, I would politely say, "Lord, I don't know why, but You do, so it's okay." Nope...not this time. I was so truthful with Him. The hurt went deeper this time and my questioning was more like, "Lord, I know You are good, so how in the world could such a tragedy happen?! You do not make sense." Yep...I was that truthful with Him. He handles truthfulness very well.
I'd like to report that He sent a lightening bolt down from heaven and inscribed the answer to me on rocks in my front yard, but we both know that would be outrageous:) I'd also like to report that my struggle only lasted a few hours. It was more like a few months. During that time, I questioned and I doubted. I wavered between the truth and the lie. It got so bad that I admitted my struggle to my husband (even as my pride told me to act like "super-Christian" and stuff it). He tenderly held me as I cried, and then cried some more. It had been a very long time since I had struggled with such doubt.
Do you remember the feeling you had when you figured out that Santa was not real? Do you remember the let down?
That is what I felt like I was teetering on...not questioning God's existence, but questioning God's goodness...and I was so scared I was going to be slapped in the face with a new reality. My heart told me the truth, but my head wanted a concrete answer for why God allows some of the things He does.
I never found one.
Do you know what I did find?
Grace...and a new word called, eucharisteo.
God, my kind and patient Father, led me to read a book by a woman who had traveled down this same path and shared my same struggle. Upon picking up the book, I had no clue what it was about, so realizing the subject matter placed me in awe of the Lord once again, for He is the God of the details, you know. From page one, I knew this book was an answer to my cry for help.
The name of the book is "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. It is now a best seller, I believe, so you've probably heard of it and hopefully, you have already read it. If you haven't, I implore you to pick up a copy as soon as you can. There are no words to explain how beautiful Ann writes. It's almost like reading a poem by one of the greats. But beyond all of that, she explains "eucharisteo" and shows how Jesus, by His example at the Last Supper, taught us how to transfigure all things by giving thanks.
It is in learning to give thanks that my own life has been transfigured. I find it ironic that pain and struggle ultimately led to this transformation. Many times, what we fear the most is really what we need the most!
In Ann's book, she keeps a list of things for which she is thankful. I started a list as well. Here is just a sampling of the many that I have listed:
- quiet moments when little ones are sleeping peacefully in their beds
- people that are still searching out God, just like me
- creaking swings on sunny afternoons
- finding safety in the arms of the One who will never let me go
- nice police men who give me grace
- love that grows deeper as time goes on
- girly giggles
- a best friend who "gets me"
- getting to point out His way and His gifts to my children
- dairy cows on green hills
- soft puppy fur on my feet
- long conversations with my husband
- the way home feels after a long trip
- missionaries who boldly proclaim the gospel in the midst of terror
- finding freedom, like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon
- friends who let me know that they care
- a surprise visit from my brother
- realizing how thankfulness opens one's eyes
This Thanksgiving, may you truly realize that your blessings abound...and may you humbly bow in thanks to the Giver of them all!!!
For His glory,