Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

"Life is a furnace and the faithful live by the Shadrach-prayer of only 4 words: 
“Even if He doesn’t.”" - Ann Voskamp

“How was your Thanksgiving?” It‘s a well-intentioned question, asked with the same superficial tone of the “How are you?” question. It’s a question that doesn’t really expect an answer. At least, no answer besides “Great!” Unfortunately, I have little patience for idle chit-chat. I don’t want “surface” relationship. I get that our society has social norms and such pertaining to greetings like these, but I’ve long since (four years, to be precise) foregone catering to them. And it’s hard. It’s hard because I feel like I don’t fit in. I don’t belong. My heart is elsewhere. My heart no longer resides on this side of heaven. I am, as the Bible describes Christians, a stranger and an alien, a foreigner.

Child loss will do that to you, you know. It shifts your focus. It opens your eyes to eternal things. It redefines what’s important. It presents you with only two choices: to say as Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him…” or as Job’s wife, “…Curse God and die.” (Job 13:15, 2:9) When your world falls apart, you don’t get to sit on the fence. Devastation forces a response: Lean hard on Him? Or harden your heart? In that moment when your world shifts, your response determines the direction of your healing.

See, your circumstances don’t change if you bless or curse. Like Job and his wife, their possessions and their children were destroyed. They weren’t coming back, and no amount of blessing or cursing was going to change that. But their responses? Their responses changed everything. Job chose to worship God. He chose to trust God despite his feelings. And the circumstances didn’t change. In fact, they got worse. Yet Job continued to press in to God, to recount His character. And in the end, he held fast to his belief in God’s goodness, and he was greatly blessed.

Job experienced what Ann Voskamp called the “Shadrach-prayer of only 4 words: ‘Even if He doesn’t.’” Those of us, like Job, who have buried children know this “Even if He doesn’t.” We live it every day. And every day is a choice to keep trusting God, to trust Him amid the grief and throughout the holidays when sorrow seeps in.

I choose to give thanks because God is faithful. I thank Him, not because of the gifts He gives (though He does give good gifts, and I am thankful for them), but because of the Giver. It is the Giver who invokes my praise. The gifts are fleeting. The Giver is the true gift. He will never be taken away from me. My joy in Him becomes my strength, my thanks.

How was my Thanksgiving? My Thanksgiving was like every day…filled with joy…and grief…and thanks giving.

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