There are those moments when you realize that you’ve just sewn the lace ruffle inside the pillow instead of nicely around the outside edge, or when the potting soil has landed all over the kitchen floor. And I suppose that these are cleverly disguised opportunities. Given enough grace, we can pause to consider our words in the moments that follow and modify our automated responses.
But what about life’s larger inconveniences and more major disasters? What about when the world is drying up around you and even a tap root isn’t enough to stave off the drought? When you drive by the withered corn, some already dried up to a brown paper husk, and other stalks with their leaves shriveled toward the sky? When clouds pass overhead without releasing any rain? When you hear of a seven year drought? Or when you witness an internal drought that has produced a withered soul? Of those whose lives seem to have withered to an empty husk?
I recently read these words by Brennan Manning:
Let me make a suggestion. Each day take a little time to pause and pray, “Jesus, I thank you for everything.”
In this simple prayer there is humility, a deep trust in his love, surrender, and thanksgiving. It glorifies Jesus and pleases the Father. It is a cry of abandonment. Actually it is nothing more than what Paul asked of the Ephesians in chapter 5 verse 20: “Always and everywhere giving thanks to God who is our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (JB).
As you pray daily in this way, I believe you will hear the Father say something like this:
“My child, fan the flame of your confidence in me. Keep it burning. … Trust is an aspect of love. If you love me and believe in my love for you, you will surrender your whole self into my hands like a little child who doesn’t even ask, ‘Where are you taking me?’ but sets off joyously, hand in hand with his mother….”
“I thank you for everything“?
I’m not sure I’m ready to pray this prayer. Learning the humility and trust to give thanks like this honestly and consistently must be the work of the Spirit.
And I’m really not sure how to pray this in a world where evil is so much more than a distant memory, where there is cruelty, and where life might end like this:
It’s so preposterous — astounding, amazing — that it’s almost funny. It is, since it’s only a cicada. What sort of odds are those anyway?
But what if it were you that flew into the barbed wire fence? Or someone you love?
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
These words are beautifully inspiring, but so challenging, and they make me wonder here in these days of a drought, “Can I rejoice? Will I be joyful in the midst of so many thoughs?” Though the rain doesn’t fall, though the thermometer reads over 100 yet again, though the same people continue to do the same things?
I recently heard confidence defined as “cheerful courage,” and this must be the confidence that is required to pray this prayer, to have Habakkuk’s joy and to thank Jesus for everything.
May God grant us all this cheerful courage and may we take hold of it. I think we need it. I know I do.