Gratitude. We give gratitude to the bearded God Man for all that he has given us -- our spouses, our homes, our health, our starbucks coffee.
We tell Him that we are thankful for all that He has done. Praise Him for giving us that job we wanted. That raise we wanted. That scholarship we wanted. That husband we wanted. That baby we wanted.
We look to the sky and we tell Him that we know we are blessed and the abundance of love and joy and good tidings is overwhelming.
It's simply too much. Like that last bite of sweet-potato-pie you take before you decide that if you'd ever like to walk again, you'd better stop now.
But there's another side to gratitude that the not-so-apparently-blessed will wrestle with in their hearts today. A side to gratitude that I am wrestling with in my heart today.
I'm talking about the unexplainable, heart-wrenching times when the bearded God Man "doesn't prevent" the terrible-awful from raging like a lion and devouring what joy you may have had.
The times when no matter how much you prayed, how loudly you wailed, how much you were willing to sacrifice,
the bearded God Man withholds the good,
flat out says no,
that disease is incurable,
that typhoon killed your family,
that man shot your child,
the city is taking your house,
those foster babies won't be yours to love after all.
How are we to be thankful for the terrible-awful?
Do we lift our hands and say thank you for death?
Maybe the saints could be thankful for the terrible-awful. And maybe you can, too.
But I am no saint.
I am very-much-human. And to feel poor and empty on the-most-gracious-day-ever is to be a lone foreigner at someone else's table.
Maybe you're here with me. The world is rejoicing, but all I can think of is the loss -- the loss of life, my heart, my soul. The death of the belief that if you pray enough, wail enough, believe enough -- the bearded God Man will plead your case and bring victory over that which will utterly destroy you.
For some, he does. For others, he does not. And I'll never quite understand it.
On this beautiful-day-of-thanks, your heart may be breaking. You may feel like the lone foreigner, the weight of loss bearing down on your shoulders, wishing for better news or more favorable circumstances, cracking a smile to get through the hype of today. Let it be so. Grieve as your heart needs to.
Or, there may be a lone foreigner at your table, a loved one whose grief is like an unexpected "plus one," making you re-think your already-arranged-table for eight. Recognize that days like today only amplify grief. Don't ask a thousand questions. Just rearrange your place settings and make room for them to be, even if it's uncomfortable. Weep with your loved one, but don't try to fix their pain. Though you'll feel utterly helpless, you can't do it.
No matter which side of the table you are on, one thing is for certain:
Grief exists, even on the most-gracious-day-ever.
Even in the hearts of the seemingly blessed.
Even at your table.
Let it be so.